A farming couple water spinach in their vegetable garden. Photo: IFAD/GMB Akash

The United Nations fund tasked with promoting rural development will provide a $22-million loan to Sri Lanka to finance the improvement of the South Asian country?s irrigation infrastructure and crop diversification, as well as projects to expand market opportunities for smallholder farmers.

The line of credit from the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will benefit an estimated 7,000 small-scale farming households in Kilinochchi district in Northern province by improving downstream irrigation infrastructure from the Iranamadu reservoir.

The reservoir, which has not been maintained adequately for many years, will be rehabilitated to increase its water-holding capacity.

The loan agreement was signed yesterday at the IFAD headquarters in Rome by Kanayo F. Nwanze, the IFAD President, and Ambassador Asitha Perera of Sri Lanka.

The funding will also be used to train farmers on water saving management methods, including climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, such as rainwater harvesting. Women?s groups will also be formed and trained on growing vegetable crops.

The latest financing brings to 16 programmes and projects funded by IFAD in Sri Lanka since 1978 at a total investment of about $400 million, benefiting more than 500,000 households.

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