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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2552

Spanish Red Cross boosts cinnamon production in Galle

By Munza Mushtaq - Reporting from Colombo for Asian Tribune

Colombo, 26 May, (Asiantribune.com): A Spanish Red Cross project conducted in collaboration with Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and the Department of Export Agriculture is assisting tsunami affected families to regain lost livelihoods and helping the country to restore its capacity in cinnamon cultivation, the country's fourth largest export earner crop.

The project aims to boost the livelihoods of over 170 small hold farmers through the restoration of cinnamon trees damaged by the tsunami as well as re-cultivation of lands where cinnamon crops were completely destroyed. It is being implemented in the southern district of Galle, where the tsunami destroyed hundreds of acres of cinnamon trees.

Production and export of cinnamon is a centuries old business in Sri Lanka. "Sri Lanka is well known for producing the best cinnamon in the world, with some 45% of the total exports coming from Galle District. The tsunami had a devastating impact both on the export industry and the individual farmer", says Anura Rupasinghe, the Assistant Director of the Department of Export Agriculture.

The project is being implemented in four phases – including clearing and preparation of land and training of farmers. The process is being carried out through four farmer associations that have been set up comprised of beneficiaries of the project.

"The Red Cross project provided assistance for farmers to either revive plants that could be saved or clear destroyed trees and prepared land for re-cultivation. The Department of Export Agriculture and Red Cross have also completed training for farmers in proper irrigation of cultivation plots, use of fertiliser, pest control, pruning of trees and processing", explains Nuria Benitez, Development Delegate with the Spanish Red Cross. Planting was conducted during the December 2005 and January 2006 'Yala' planting season. The cinnamon trees are expected to be fully productive in two and a half years.

- Asian Tribune -

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