* Evaluation reveals extent of support from private sector* Funds provided for Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya districts
The enthusiasm displayed by the private sector to support the Grama Shakthi People’s Movement and the potential of this new PPP (Public-Private Partnership) is expected to provide the much-needed fillip to this people oriented village empowerment programme of which the ultimate aim is to eradicate poverty.
Grama Shakthi is a project implemented in accordance with a concept of President Maithripala Sirisena to show the path for people to escape the trap of dependency and to achieve self-sufficiency in partnership with the private sector. This project is successfully operative at Divisional Secretariat level targeting the underprivileged.
Provincial level Grama Shakthi evaluation thus far has revealed the extent of the support from the private sector. Last week the Central Province Action Committee of the Grama Shakthi People’s Movement was chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena at the President’s House in Kandy. During this meeting several agreements were signed between village committees and leading private sector companies.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Matale Amban Ganga Vanilla Growers’ Grama Shakthi Association Ltd. and the McCormick Company, USA – a Fortune 1000 and another MoU between the Nuwara Eliya Flower Growers’ Grama Shakthi Association and Hayleys PLC.
Accordingly, Hayleys will provide high quality seeds, necessary physical resources and knowledge to the suppliers and will issue a certificate confirming purchase of their products.
A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between the Galkadapatana Crop Producers and Entrepreneurs Grama Shakthi Association Ltd. and Kyoto Coffee Company.
During the meeting, the President provided the funds for the first quarter to the District Secretaries of Kandy, Matale and Nuwara Eliya districts. Rs. 60 million for the Kandy district, Rs.15 million for the Nuwara Eliya district, and Rs.33 million for the Matale district was provided.
The Grama Shakthi movement aims at empowering people by initiating joint ventures between the village committees and private sector companies. Initially the government provides funds to the village committees for initiating projects for the partnership with the private sector for technological support and buyback arrangements. Once the project is launched, the government will not intervene and it will be entirely for the village committee to carry out the project and reap benefits.
Despite the issue of poverty, Sri Lanka enjoys a high life expectancy, high literacy rate and other social indicators nearly on par with those of developed countries and easily tops the rankings for the South Asia region. While all these indicate that Sri Lanka should be experiencing a high standard of living, until recently the country has only ranked in the medium category of the Human Development Index (HDI). It ranked as a poor country and its poverty level was very high until year 2000. The bridge between higher HDI performance and poverty needs to be understood. Sri Lanka’s seven-decade long investment in human capital development and relatively low priority for market competitiveness and entrepreneurship development need to be contextualized.
According to statistics at present the poverty index of the Kandy District is 5.5%, while the underprivileged population is 76,429. The Nuwara Eliya District has a poverty index of 6.3 % and the underprivileged population of 46,257. The poverty index of the Matale District is 3.9 % and the underprivileged population is 19,359.
A number of projects have been implemented under the Grama Shakthi People’s Movement targeting these people to uplift their livelihood. These were discussed in detail for progress and the issues arisen when implementing them. During the meeting in Kandy last week, the President pointed out that the Grama Shakthi People’s Movement should be implemented without any political differences. He stressed the need of uniting everyone with a greater accountability in this regard. Thereafter, the President visited the Grama Shakthi manufacturing village of Kotaligoda, north of Yati Nuwara divisional secretariat and held discussions with the people.
The agreements signed at this meeting will ensure private sector support to the villages. Gramashakthi Peoples’ Movement community programme in Matale District with McCormick & Co USA, with their Sri Lankan business partner Adamjee Lukmanjee & Sons Pvt. Ltd. to uplift the rural economy through their joint proposal for an integrated organic agricultural project in growing and curing vanilla in Sri Lanka. The farmer communities in Matale will be trained about the modern methods of growing, pollination, harvesting and vanilla curing. Vanilla is the second highest valued commercial crop in the world and climatic conditions and soil in Matale are ideal for high quality vanilla planations.
Hayleys Quality Seeds Company Ltd. signed an agreement with Nuwara Eliya flower Growers’ Grama Shakthi Association, which represents a 635 farmer community in Nuwara Eliya district. Under the agreement, Hayleys will provide them the required technology, know how, plant material and buy back guarantee.
Under the MoU signed between the Galkadapatana Crop Producers and Entrepreneurs Grama Shakthi Association Ltd and Kiyoto Coffee Company, the coffee plantation in the area is expected to get a tremendous boost. The Kiyota Coffee Company is specialized with high quality coffee manufacturing especially the variety of Arabica or Mountain Coffee and they have found that Nuwra Eliya has the ideal climate for coffee plantations. Currently they require this variety for export markets particularly to Japan and also local coffee restaurants widely use their coffee for value added menus.
Sri Lanka has been successful in reducing abject poverty from 15.2% in 2006 to 4.9% in 2016. This achievement was made by giving special attention to poverty reduction through introducing safety nets to sustain the basic needs of the abject poor and encouraging them to involve themselves with self-employment. The Grama Shakthi People’s Movement aims at bringing the poverty level from 4.9% to zero in the near future.