Kilinochchi Women’s Cooperative
Kilinochchi is a war-affected region in Northern Sri Lanka. This project sought to improve the livelihoods of 21 women-headed households (primarily war widows) through the formation of an agricultural cooperative. Initiated and implemented by our partners Vanni Hope (via Kaveri Kala Manram), this project had three phases:
- The provision of irrigation systems – sprinkler irrigation systems, along with the requisite training on usage, were provided to each household. These systems enabled households to establish more productive gardens despite the region’s arid conditions.
2. Training in organic agriculture + donation of seedlings – Households received ongoing training in a range of organic agricultural methods, including the cultivation of cash crops like mushrooms and moringa. Each household received a range of fast-growing (herbs and greens) and long-term crops (coconut)
3. Seed investment to establish a women’s cooperative and revolving fund – In the final phase of the project, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic across 2020, we supported these women-headed households to establish a women’s cooperative and form partnerships with local buyers. The cooperative also has a revolving fund to provide members with small loans to make strategic investments in their home gardens. There is also a rotation of quails, where new members are gifted quails and expected to donate at least one back to the cooperative later on.
- The provision of irrigation systems has greatly expanded the gardens of all 21 households participating in the project, with all growing a wider range of crops for longer periods across the year.
- Households now have a greater capacity to engage in a range of organic cultivation methods and value addition, this is evidenced in a wider range of crops being grown for household consumption and for sale.
- The income of 21 households rose from an average of Rs. 3,500/ month in Jan 2019 to Rs. 18,000 by July 2020. This is despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.
- The establishment of a women’s cooperative, including a revolving fund, provides a structure for households to work collaboratively to command higher prices.
- The women’s cooperative has established partnerships with three local companies to secure large-scale purchases of agricultural produce sold by the cooperative.