The programme is centred on the Ampara and Monaragala districts, according to the Sri Lankan government, and will see participating families given 50 free seedlings of the high-quality hybrid papaya variety Red Lady, along with training in cultivation and business practices.
USAID has partnered with Anoma Agro Based Products, part of the Daya Group, which will purchase the farmers’ harvest.
Anoma identified a demand on the domestic and export markets for the Red Lady papaya, which sells for a higher price than traditional varieties.
The project will involve 2,135 farmers, of which 1,400 have already planted around 80ha of papaya.
The two month long harvest, which began last November, is worth SLRe1.98m (US$17,322).
In 2010 the programme is planned to expand to 3,000 growers, increasing papaya volumes and total value of the crop.