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DateLine Sunday, 25 May 2008

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Cargills to help farmers in Eastern Province

WB to fund $ 64m for project:

Cargills Ceylon Ltd. in collaboration with the Ministry of Nation Building and the World Bank will launch a project next month to help farmers in the conflict hit areas in the Eastern province.

The World Bank will fund US$ 64 million for the project estimated to cost US$ 80 million to develop farming and livestock in the province.

Cargills which operates in 19 districts has now moved into the conflict affected areas to develop agriculture and the livestock sectors by buying the produce directly from farmers.

Agriculture Manager, Cargills Ceylon Ltd., Haridas Fernando said the company as in other districts will buy vegetables, rice, fruits, fish and milk from farmers in the East which will help reduce waste and eliminate the middleman.

Farmers are paid 20 per cent more than the market price by selling the same produce to customers at 20 per cent less.

A minimum guaranteed price is assured for each produce compared to the cost of production. "We will pay a better price for farmers and customers by eliminating the middleman and reducing post harvest waste which is below 5 per cent compared to the national loss of 40 per cent," Fernando said.

Cargills links its factories with the farmers and fishermen in the districts through the collecting centres. The World Bank has commended the strategy as a unique model to reduce poverty and regional disparity.

A training program on methods to reduce post harvest losses and improving quality will be conducted jointly with the World Bank for farmers in Batticaloa and Ampara at the Thambuththegama and Norochcholai collecting centres early next month.

Cargills will invest Rs. 100 million to process rice in the East to link farmer organisations and cooperatives. Processing rice and other produce at grassroot level will provide employment and a better income to the rural community," he said.

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