Although the economy of Sri Lanka is growing overall, several districts still face marginal food insecurity. These districts are predominantly rural, where agriculture remains a primary source of income and farmers encounter many challenges. Key challenges for small-scale producers include severe weather conditions, minimal connection to private sector value chains, and lack of capacity building opportunities. Such challenges prevent these smallholders from increasing their agricultural outputs and moving from sustenance farmers to small-scale commercial producers.
The Sri Lanka Supporting Opportunities for Livelihoods Development (SOLID) project, funded by USAID, promotes economic growth and livelihood development among agricultural producers in the dairy, poultry, and horticulture sectors. In particular, the project focuses on creating economic opportunities for women, youth, and vulnerable populations. The project’s main goals are to strengthen the livelihoods and productivity of farming households, which in turn improves their diets. Project activities focus on productivity enhancements, improved market access, more widespread use of good agricultural practices, and measurable improvements in nutritional intake.
One in four farmers (27 percent) that the project works with is a woman, and activities focusing on nutrition have been particularly successful in educating farmers on the importance of a balanced diet and support them to produce more food for their families. The poultry training program, for example, has been particularly effective in teaching farmers (66 percent of them women) technical and business management skills.
Other important goals include increasing the use of improved practices and technologies and ensuring that smallholders understand agribusiness tactics to improve competitiveness. Part of this involves increasing smallholder farmer membership in farmer groups, as well as increasing their links to financial service providers. The project also focuses on reaching conflict-affected provinces in the north and east to better serve vulnerable groups in the country.