Rural renaissance | Sunday Observer
Production village program

Rural renaissance

16 January, 2022
Kithul value-added products at the Saubhagya production villages
Kithul value-added products at the Saubhagya production villages

Sri Lanka has been since independence in 1948 endeavouring to gain self-sufficiency in food, food security, economic emancipation, agricultural and industrial development and enhance the living standards of the people through various types of poverty alleviation programs. But we are still internationally recognised as a developing country.

In terms of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Saubhagya Dekma political manifesto, the eradication of poverty has been prioritised. The President launched the Gama Samga Pilisandarak (dialogue with the village) to collect first-hand information regarding the plight of the people especially those under poverty line. As a result of the learnt lessons having mingled with the public, the President has intervened in launching a number of development ventures such as Wari Saubhagya, Wew Gam Pubuduwa 100,000 jobs program, Pivithuru Ganga program, construction of 100,000 carpeted roads and providing drinking water facilities for the people in the dry zone.

Under the Samurdhi development movement, the Saubhagya production village program has come to limelight being launched to promote home - based products, raising the income level of the poverty trodden rural community, uplifting the rural economy and making a significant contribution towards national production throughout the country such as 500 villages in the first phase and another 500 under the second phase, involving low income earners including Samurdhi recipients as well as more potential family units who contribute to the production process.

500-production village structure as indicated in graph 1.

Production village is a village that produces or serves value-added products, with low income families directly contributing to the production process, based on the product potential resource availability and marketing facilities. Production village can also be interpreted or identified as single village or cluster of villages which means a collection of several nearby Grama Niladari Divisions based on geographical factors or the scattering of producers.

The production villages established under the Samurdhi Development Department come under five sectors such as agriculture, industries fisheries, animal husbandry and services. The Saubhagya production village program was inaugurated in March 2021 in the Elaytapaththuwa village in Anuradhapura. In this village, ornamental flowers and flora cultivation is promoted. Referring to the 1,000 Saubhagya Production village program, State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said that the maximum allocation for each production village is Rs 10 million.

People centric economy

“After identifying beneficiaries, a Saubhagya production society consisting of all of them will be established in each village, under the supervision of the Divisional Secretaries. Average monthly income for a beneficiary will be Rs 30,000. We established 560 production village and hope to set up 1,000 Saubhagya production villages by 2023. The President believes that for building up a people centric advanced economy, the local production procedure and the processing should be efficiently implemented.

“We hope to add Rs 18,000 million to the national revenue through the income derived from the production villages. The Samurdhi Development Bureau will invest Rs. 50,000 to Rs 100,000 on each beneficiary.

The Anuradhapura district is in the forefront of the Saubhagya production village program with 30 villages to its credit.

They can be categorised as indicated in graph 2.

The Samurdhi Development Department has invested Rs, 196,909,215 for these projects. Anuradhapura district planning Director Sugath Nayanananda said that there are 1,754 beneficiaries in 30 villages. Arrangements are being initiated to export the products of the Saubhagya production villages mainly to China.

In terms of close bilateral ties between the two countries, since 2018 Neo China Centre for International Development has been working with the Government to extend China’s rural revitalisation mechanism to Sri Lanka so that Sri Lanka can be the model country for other developing countries. After four years of hard working, the rural revitalisation mechanism will be grounded together with institutions such as Samurdhi Development Ministry.

Pilot project

A ministry spokesman told the Sunday Observer that of 25 districts in the country, Anuradhapura has been selected to launch the pilot project to realise “Digital Rural Revitalisation” through non-farm activities, crops livestock aqua-culture and fisheries.

The Secretary and the chief research officer of the Neo China Centre for International Development functioning from China’s Chong Chin province Liu Yang made a tour of Saubhagya Production villages in Thalawa, Galnewa and Rajangane Divisional Secretariat divisions inspecting ornamental fish breeding, mushroom growing, big onion seeds production and specially the purple water Lily (Nil Manel) growing project and the hand paper manufacturing industry. Liu Yang said that he, through the Neo China Centre for International Development would make arrangements to improve production villages. The Centre will intervene and coordinate an export promotion venture for output of a range of standardised products of the production villages.

As the basis for identifying production villages, factors such as whether the village has a group of people who make products that are unique to the area, or whether there are people who possess the knowledge and skills to manufacture the particular item or the availability of resources as well as availability of raw materials within the area are taken in to consideration. The development officer in charge of the division is responsible for identifying village to be uplifted as a production village.

Modern technology

Steps are taken to encourage the beneficiaries to familiarising with modern technology which help them produce standardised products and possess sophisticated finish befitting to local and foreign markets. Anuradhapura District Planning Director Sugath Nayanananda spearheading the Anuradhapura model Saubhagya production village program said that all beneficiaries are trained for gaining technological knowledge, financial literacy, marketing, resources management with the assistance and the fullest corporation of universities, IDB, Institute of Post Harvest Technology, Banking institutes and recognised private sector enterprises.

A beneficiary farmer, A.G. Madushanka of a flower growing production village in Elayapatthuwa said that they are encouraged to take to scientific flower breeding and Samurdhi banks offering them micro interest loan facilities to carry on with the project. “We are now harvesting purple water Lily (Nil Manel) within four months growing in artificial ponds.

The Samurdhi development authorities have intervened to get us marketing facilities,” he said. Under the instructions of the Samurdhi Development State Minister, the tourist industry in Habarana is being revived.

The Habarana, Kasyapagama and Hiriwaduna villages cluster is being developed as tourism promotion production villages at an initial cost of Rs. 30 million. W.G.T. Tikiribanda of Hiriwadunna said that during the past two years, the tourism industry which was their livelihood empowerment source collapsed mainly due to coronavirus. I engaged in boat safari activities in the Hiriwadunna tank. “Under the production villages establishment plan, we are provided funds to repair our boats which have been decaying for years. Infrastructural facilities are being improved,” he said.