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Program to uplift tea smallholders

The Smallholder Plantation Entrepreneurship Development Program(SPEnDP) aims at improving the livelihoods of marginalized tea smallholders in the mid-country region and poor upland food crop farmers in the intermediate zone of Moneragala region, Plantation Industries Ministry sources said.

The SPEnDP operates under a loan of US$ 40.7 million provided by the International Fund for Agricultural Development for a seven year period.

Under the program 3,500 hectares of lands under perennial crops in mid-country and 3,800 hectares of rubber in Moneragala district will be developed.

Elaborating on the project, Program Coordinator C. Maliyadda said the objective of the program is to encourage the partnership of the smallholders in the plantation industry, while ensuring sustainable uplift of social, economic and general living status of smallholder families.

Maliyadda said, over 1,647 hectares have been newly converted to rubber cultivation during last two years and it is expected to extend it up to 5,000 hectares. Over 75 hectares had been covered by Tea re-planting and in-filling under this program.

The ultimate aim of the project is to uplift tea smallholders as entrepreneurs, he added.

Building a close relationship between tea factories and tea smallholders is another objective of the program, he said.

The program covers six divisions in Kegalle, Kandy , Nuwara Eliya and the entirety of Moneragala district.

The project beneficiaries include 8,700 households comprising 39,250 persons.

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