ILO supports the creation of market links through cooperatives in agriculture in Northern Sri Lanka

Since its establishment in 2017, the ILO supported the Udayarkaddu Cooperative to establish a primary processing facility for fruits and vegetables, set up market linkages through private sector partnerships; and increase the production capacity of its member farmers through a series of capacity building initiatives. During COVID-19 the cooperative tailored ways to serve its members even during the lockdown.

Actualité | 10 décembre 2020
Located in Mullaitivu District of Northern Province, the Udayarkaddu Cooperative was formed in September 2017 and registered at the Department of Cooperative Development under the facilitation of ILO’s Local Economic Empowerment and Development (LEED) project through an initiative on “Employment Generation, livelihoods through reconciliation”.

Currently the cooperative has 410 members, where one-third of the members are women heads of households and 40 per cent are people with disabilities. The ILO supported the cooperative to establish a primary processing facility for fruits and vegetables, established market linkages through private sector partnerships; and increase the production capacity of member farmers through a series of capacity building initiatives”. The cooperative is now operating on its own without additional support from the ILO. It continues to work with other private sector partners for innovative agricultural production and marketing initiatives. A recent development was that it has partnered with SANASA (a leading cooperative bank in Sri Lanka) on an organic agriculture production programme.

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cooperative continued to support its members and serve them. The cooperative’s marketing system closed down for nearly a month in April 2020 due to the lockdown. The cooperative took the initiative, with the approval of the local authorities, to carry out mobile vending and door-to-door delivery mechanism for its members and the communities around the cooperative. It also started to explore collaboration with multi-purpose cooperatives in other districts to supply large quantities of packaged vegetables through their distribution systems. Activating their cooperative networks, aligned with cooperative principle six on “cooperation among cooperatives” has given a marketing outlet to Udayarkaddu cooperative members while keeping food supplies flowing to people in other districts.

For more on the work of ILO LEED+ project with cooperatives of farmers, especially women, see here.

For more on the opportunities created by the ILO LEED + (2018-22) project for members of the cooperative through private sector partnerships, see here.

For more on the work of ILO Colombo office on the national cooperative policy, see here.