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14th Cargills Village to Home

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The Cargills Village to Home programme supports the country’s small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) by providing them with a platform to engage with a larger network of customers.

As a company which has continuously engaged with and invested in rural agricultural communities across Sri Lanka, Cargills launched this programme, initially in September 2020, in the aftermath of the pandemic, to provide local SMEs, who had lost access to markets, with a platform to showcase their products. In addition, Cargills leverages its vast expertise in product development, marketing, and finance to support local entrepreneurs improve their product offerings. The Cargills Bank provides financing and banking assistance to the SMEs. The programme has been able to open exports markets for certain SMEs while some have become listed suppliers at Cargills Retail outlets due to their popularity.

The 14th Cargills Village to Home was held on the 1st and 2nd of October 2022 at the Bauddaloka Mawatha Cargills Food City premises, with an interesting array of traditional Sri Lankan food and handicrafts.

Among the SMEs featured this week was young Sasindu Thathsara from Bibile, Monaragala. Sasindu is the developer of a water filtering system known as Mannussakama, aimed at providing clean drinking water at a reasonable price to those struggling to find safe drinking water. His innovation is inspired by the challenges faced by people in his hometown to find clean drinking water. Kandy handicrafts by Asanka Priyalal was also featured in this programme. Asanka markets a variety of coconut shell products, as well as Batik fabric-covered notebooks. Saman Dhammika was another entrepreneur who was part of the programme this time, marketing his household cleaning products Derma Care. His products included bathroom cleaners, hand wash, and tile cleaners. Mauli Creations marketed products such as bedsheets, tablecloths, and clothing made from batiks and handlooms. The rural township of Manikhinna Kalasirigama also participated in the 14th Cargills Village to Home programme displaying their handicrafts, made out of Hana plants. including bags, table mats, pouches, wall hangings, mats.

Earth and Fire by Dumindu had several interesting types of pottery and jewellery.  Nalin Kumara’s Healyo products included natural bee honey, bottled food items made of kochchi, sesame, and garlic. UNIQ Ayurvedic cosmetic products by Naomi Perera, a young female SME, showcased various types of unique ayurvedic cosmetic items. Sugar Galaxy by Dennis Thushanthani, a business that produces cakes, sweets, and traditional Tamil food items was also present. Rusteaks Wooden Décor by Shehara Fernando showcased wooden decorations made out of scrap wood. Derani plants by Himashi Ranasighe, another young female SME, had several types of flowers and vegetable plants, seeds, and organic fertilizer. Two Cargills Lak Bojun SMEs also participated providing healthy, traditional, Sri Lankan breakfast meals for customers who visited the event.



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Tea industry targets USD 1.2 bn export turnover in 2023

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Sri Lanka will earn around USD 1.2 billion from tea exports for 2023 exporting around 260 million Kg, said Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, (SLTB) Niraj de Mel, last week.

SLTB is forecasting a modest growth for 2023 in comparison to the current year estimating an increased production of 290 million Kgs with export revenues expected to increase to USD 1.4 billion. Due to the depreciation of the rupee against the dollar, during the first half of the year and a shortage of tea, sales caught up and auction prices increased sharply from March 2022. Despite fuel shortages and logistic issues, the Regional Plantation Companies and smallholders have been able to continue the harvesting of green leaf throughout the year. When compared to 2020 and 2021 volumes, the Green Leaf price to smallholders has increased exponentially from July 2022 onwards.

“The tea smallholder who used to get around Rs. 90 per kg three years ago is now getting around Rs. 250 per kg and some estates have paid nearly Rs. 1,000 per kg. He said that though the glyphosate fertiliser ban is lifted planters should not use it heavily as a ‘global ban of glyphosate’ is imminent for the tea industry. Some countries like Taiwan already reject tea grown with the use of glyphosate.” He recalled that tea production reached an all time high with a record of 340 million Kgs in 2013. “After short increases during the period 2017 to 2019, tea production recorded a decrease in 2020, mainly due to the fallout from the pandemic and now we are taking several steps to increase production.”

The Tea board is offering a host of financial grants and loans to the tea growers, factories as well as for exporters. “These include subsidies for replanting, fertiliser for growers, special grants and loans for factories to upgrade their machinery and soft loans for exporters for packaging. These facilities exceed Rs. 4 billion per year.”

Tea Commissioner E. Edirisinghe said that they would also provide Rs. I million for tea factory expansion which comes as a grant. “In addition, we pay 3% of the capital when factories install solar,” he said.

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Harin urges for ‘breathing space’ to revive tourism

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Minister of Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando said on Saturday that persistent political agitations make his job of promoting Sri Lanka as a safe and convenient tourist destination extremely difficult.

“Now the country has restarted to function although not at a comfortable level to everyone. People undergo many economic difficulties due to high cost of living. These issues need to be addressed and resolved one by one. Creating troubles constantly in a highly political way won’t help the country to come out of the crisis. It will only prolong the crisis.

As Minister of Tourism, I have a hard time promoting tourism in Sri Lanka because it is no easy task to convince potential overseas visitors that the situation is back to normal. So, I appeal to these parties to allow at least six months for the country resuscitate whose breathing had stopped for some time,” he said.

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UTECH Technologies recognised at Sahasak Nimavum Innovation Awards

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UTECH Technologies (Pvt) Limited, Sri Lanka’s leading Industry 4.0 transformation solutions provider won the most prestigious innovation award, the DASIS award at the Sahasak Nimavum National Innovation Awards held recently. The DASIS Award is judged across all competing categories and only awarded to the innovation that shows novelty in technology and has been commercialized successfully. This award is judged by a learned panel of national and international judges including academia and industry experts. UTECH also won overall gold for best commercialized ICT innovation. UTECH has won many national and international awards, including the overall gold for “IoT technology of the year” at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) in 2021.

UTECH’s Managing Director, Riyad Ismail said, “Having many Sri Lankan industrial conglomerates as our clients, we have started exporting our hardware and software solutions to world markets.”

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