Promoting SOLID Livelihoods
The USAID Sri Lanka Supporting Opportunities in Livelihoods Development (SOLID) project works with rural communities in the Northern, North Central, and Eastern Provinces, with a focus on helping women, youth, and vulnerable populations, to shift from subsistence agriculture to small-scale commercial production.
To improve productivity in the dairy sector and increase farmer resilience to weather variability, SOLID has introduced best practices, like silage production for year-round feed of livestock. As a result, 75% of farmers reported an increase in milk production, with 50% seeing an increase of 20% or more. Some farmers have reduced the size of their herds to focus on achieving better production with fewer animals.
To revive chili cultivation, SOLID introduced new technologies, including off-season chili cultivation utilizing poly bags and sprinkler irrigation systems, to reduce disease and increase yields. Sprinklers help farmers to control the leaf curl virus vector while reducing the cost of irrigation and water usage, versus the traditional technique of flood irrigation, thereby conserving water. With many farmers living in the dry zone, water conservation is vital to maintain consistent agricultural yields.
“I had lost interest in cultivating chili because I didn’t think I could make a good income from it. I heard about the SOLID effort to increase harvests by using new technology,” noted Lasantha Wickramasinghe, a chili farmer from Anuradhapura District. “Many young people were moving away from farming but now they believe they can actually make a profit from it. Initiatives like this will help bring the young back to the farm.”
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