Ms. Emelda Berejena, Chief Technical Advisor of the EU funded project presenting a souvenir to Mr. Hiroyuki Konuma. Ms. Beth Crawford, FAO Representative is also present.
Mr. Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General (ADG)/ Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific visited Sri Lanka from 8 – 10 July 2014. Mr. Konuma, accompanied by Ms. Beth Crawford, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, visited FAO programmes in the Kilinochchi District in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. The project areas had been badly affected by the prolonged civil war. “FAO staff has worked hard to support the resettlement of villagers who returned to their homes to resume agricultural activities, for which the rehabilitation of irrigation systems, provision of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, agriculture tools, skills training as well as capacity building were essential” said Mr. Konuma.
The team visited the Thikkaikulam tank, a minor irrigation tank rehabilitated under the EU- funded project “Integrated Irrigation and Agricultural Livelihood Development in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts” in the Karaichchi DS Division. Ms. Emelda Berejena, Chief Technical Advisor of the project, explained that in a bid to improve the livelihoods of farmers, the project targeted the rehabilitation of 73 minor tanks and abandoned land to irrigate 2,600ha of farm land in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts.
After being welcomed by farmer members of the Thikkaikulam tank, Mr Konuma toured the tank bund to inspect the sluice, canal, spill, silt removal and other works carried out as tank rehabilitation. Thikkaikulam like other minor irrigation tanks is a multipurpose village tank being used for irrigating crops, for recharging the groundwater table and surrounding agro wells, as drinking water for animals and for other domestic purposes.
Mr Konuma also toured the nearby groundnut fields that were supported under the Norway funded project “Strengthening Groundnut Production in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi Districts” and received an overview from Mr. Parthipan, Project Manager, and his team. About 58 famers including 23 female farmers participated in the discussion with the ADG. The Farmer Organization leadership extended its gratitude for the rehabilitated tank and the support received for groundnut production along with training in value addition and marketing. They also thanked for the opportunity to participate in the Farmer Field School programme, Crop Clinic programme and the exposure visits by the Department of Agriculture. The farmers also appreciated the improved relationship with the Agriculture Instructor and extension services due to project intervention and presented a token of appreciation to the ADG. Mr. Konuma in his brief address encouraged the farmers to create a revolving fund for maintenance, procurement of seed and even loaning to other members for various uses, and thanked the farmers for their participation.