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Agri SMEs looking to gain from Europe’s appetite for healthy food choices

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AHK Sri Lanka Chief Delegate Andreas Hergenröther. Pic by Jude Denzil Pathiraja

by Sanath Nanayakkare

Sri Lankan agricultural sector stakeholders and export- oriented SMEs are enthusiastic to showcase their export quality fresh fruits, vegetables and spices at the Fruit Logistica international trade show to be held from February 3-5, 2021 in Berlin.

The German Industry and Commerce Delegation Office in Colombo (AHK Sri Lanka) recently organized a press conference and virtual session to increase awareness in this regard.

The treasurer of the Spice Council of Sri Lanka speaking at the event said that fresh fruits, vegetables and spices are more popular in Europe than ever before which means Sri Lankan agri entrepreneurs should be able to gain from this export trade platform.

“There is a flourishing demand for these items as more and more Europeans are cooking lavish dishes at home in the Covid situation. In this background, Sri Lankan exporters of these commodities have a good opportunity to enhance their visibility in the EU market. The timing is just right. We have our exotic products of high quality which we can display at the Berlin Trade Show, and get the most out of having our presence there. However, we can’t afford to do it on our own because of the cost factor. We are not asking things for free, but if the Agriculture Ministry could chip in with co- funding, our participation at the trade show could become a reality. Anyway, I don’t know if there’s enough time to approve funding for this purpose as the national budget is coming up next month,” he said.

A government agriculture officer who was also part of the webinar said that she would refer the matter to the relevant authorities.

When The Island Financial Review asked how Sri Lanka’s fresh fruits and vegetable exporters can increase their visibility in the European market, Linda Mense (Berlin) Sourcing + Markets Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (Egypt, Ethiopia, Peru, Ukraine) cited Peru as the best example Sri Lanka could take inspiration from. “Peru managed to become prominent in terms of export of fresh fruit to Europe as they had a clear strategy to do so. Peru has come a long way from where it was some 15 years ago. They had a very clear strategy to showcase their fresh produce to the world. They put a lot of effort and also funding into promoting their country pavilion at the Berlin Trade Show, as a result of which Peru has today become one of the most credible and valuable exporting countries for fresh fruits and vegetables in Europe. There’s a lot to learn from Peru’s successful journey in this sphere” she said.

“Moroccan fruits and vegetables are in high demand in Germany. They are certified and fulfill the European standards. They offer different assortment of fruits and vegetables: watermelon, oranges, cantaloupe melon, bell pepper, tomatoes, plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, citron, potatoes, onions etc’, AHK Sri Lanka Chief Delegate Andreas Hergenröther told The Island Financial Review.

Europe’s consumers and importers want quality and transparent proof of origin. For this reason Global G.A.P. certification is one of the most important European standards for sustainable production and high food safety which is a must for exporters of fresh fruit and vegetables.

‘Fruit Logistica’ is the world’s leading trade fair for fruits, vegetable and spices attracting more than 3,300 exhibitors from over 90 countries, and more than 72,000 trade visitors from over 135 countries.The trade show offers exhibitors an international platform with total visibility for fresh produce and other agricultural products, while providing opportunity for face-to-face meetings with potential business partners and strengthening existing business relations with suppliers and customers. The trade show in Berlin will also showcase innovative machinery, digitalisation, automation and network technology with special focus on greenhouse technology. During the press conference, AHK Sri Lanka Chief Delegate Andreas Hergenröther highlighted the importance of raising awareness for ‘made in Sri Lanka’ products in international markets, and increasing business opportunities for Sri Lankan fresh fruits and vegetable exporters.

Participating source markets experts pointed out that European consumers are willing to pay extra for sustainable produce and commitment to protecting the environment.



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HNB partners Hayleys Agri for offers on Kubota, Agrotech, Farmtrac agriculture machinery

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(from left) Hayleys Agriculture Sales Manager Sunil Gamini, Hayleys Agriculture General Manager Sumith Herath, Hayleys Agriculture Director Lushan Abesekara, Hayleys Agriculture Director Amjad Rajap and Hayleys Agriculture Managing Director Jayanthi Dharmasena with HNB Deputy General Manager- Retail and SME Banking Sanjay Wijemanne, HNB Head of Micro Finance Vinodh Fernando, HNB Head of Personal Financial Services Kanchana Karunagama, HNB Head of Leasing Niluka Amarasinghe, HNB Assistant Manager- Leasing Roshan de Silva and HNB Business Development Executive- HNB Leasing Mahesh Ratnayake.
 
HNB PLC, renewed its partnership with leading agricultural machinery and equipment supplier Hayleys Agriculture, to offer customers convenient leasing solutions and attractive benefits for Kubota, Agrotech and Farmtrac range of machinery.
 
 The partnership which offers HNB customers special rates on tractors, transplanters and harvesters was inked at a ceremony held at Hayleys Head Office. HNB Deputy General Manager- Retail and SME Banking Sanjay Wijemanne and Hayleys Agriculture Managing Director Jayanthi Dharmasena graced the ceremony as guests of honor.
 
 “Last year was especially challenging for us all. However, we have continued to work tirelessly to provide our customers with the best possible deals available in the market. As such, we hope that entrepreneurs in the agricultural industry will make use of this offer to strengthen and expand their businesses,” HNB Head of Personal Financial Services Kanchana Karunagama said.

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Virtusa sponsors first virtual IEEE Sri Lanka robotics workshop

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The Arduino compatible ZUMO 32U4 robot interfaced using ROS during the workshop

Virtusa Corporation (NASDAQ GS: VRTU), a global provider of digital strategy, digital engineering, and IT services and solutions that help clients change and disrupt markets through innovation engineering, sponsored the first in a series of ‘Workshop’ branded events organized by IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) Sri Lanka Section Chapter in partnership with IEEE Sri Lanka Section.
 
 Anchored to an alliance that goes back a number of years, Virtusa and the IEEE RAS Sri Lanka Section Chapter moved away from the traditional ‘Meetup’ to host a full day virtual workshop, offering a unique opportunity for participants to engage with robotics and automation experts on a virtual platform. An introduction to Robot Operating System (ROS) – the workshop explored the fundamentals of ROS including robot theory, perception, navigation and manipulation, followed by hands-on sessions on ROS basics, as well as moving and manipulating robots online.
 
 “Moving away from the physical auditorium set-up to a virtual platform, we were extremely thrilled with the participation we saw during the full-day workshop,” commented Dr. Peshala Jayasekara, Senior Lecturer – Department of Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering, University of Moratuwa, lead presenter at the workshop. “Over 120 students, undergraduates, postgraduates, academia and industry stakeholders enthusiastically engaged and invested their day to successfully complete the workshop with an IEEE Technical Sponsorship, one of the highest recognitions in the world.”
 
The significance of robotics and automation largely depends on the broader collaboration between researchers and end-users of various domains – market potential that Virtusa continues to explore. Servicing multiple industries with intelligent engineering automation among a growing solutions portfolio, Virtusa promotes robotics research and application to generate greater impact by developing solutions to end-user driven challenges.
 
 “Robotics, particularly intelligent automation is rapidly changing the new norm of the IT industry,” Misnad Haque, Director – Technology at Virtusa elaborated. “From automated IT quality assurance to autonomous spaceflight, the opportunities to develop and nurture these bots are limitless. Events like this bring together like-minded humans – and perhaps robots too in the future –facilitating innovation through knowledge-sharing as well as experiential platforms that organizations like Virtusa can provide.”
 
 “Our aim is to host an IEEE Sri Lanka Robotics Workshop each year among other events, so that we can work together with expert resource personnel who are on par with global robotics trends and insights,” stated Prof. Chandima Pathirana, chairman of IEEE RAS Sri Lanka Chapter. “With Virtusa’s continued sponsorship and support, we are proud to say that this session delivered on the promised level of exposure and knowledge on robotics, and we look forward to inspiring the growing group of robotics enthusiasts in Sri Lanka.”
 

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Hyundai hands over ‘The Suites’ and ‘The Offices’ at Cinnamon Life to John Keells Properties

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Cinnamon Life Engineering Manager Yasindu Wijayawickrama, JKP COO Inoke Perera, HKN Senior Project Manager J.C. Wook, JKP Head of Sales Nadeem Shums, JKP CFO Ravi Wijewantha, JKP CMO Roshanie Jayasundera-Moraes, JKH Leisure Group President Suresh Rajendra, JKH chairman Krishan Balendra, HKN Project Director T.H Kim, JKH Property Group Sector Head Nayana Mawilmada, JKH Property Group Head of Asset Management Theekshana Jayarathna, HKN Senior Project Manager J.H Kim, HKN Resident Director Seo Seong-Soo
 
 
Cinnamon Life, John Keells Properties’ iconic mixed-development project, is ever closer to redefining Colombo’s skyline with the completion of its plush residential tower ‘The Suites’ at Cinnamon Life and the state-of-the-art office tower, ‘The Offices’ at Cinnamon Life.
 
 With its construction now complete, the 196-unit apartment building and the 30 storey office tower were ceremonially handed over to John Keells Holdings (JKH) chairman Krishan Balendra by T.H. Kim – Project Director of the contractor HKN (a joint venture between Hyundai, Keangnam and Nawaloka).
 
 Speaking at the event, Balendra said the completion of ‘The Suites’ and ‘The Offices’ at Cinnamon Life heralds a new beginning for the city of Colombo.
 
 Noting that the apartment buildings and the offices are a key feature in its mammoth integrated development project, the JKH chairman said, once completed, Cinnamon Life will rival anything that the South Asian region has to offer.
 
 “John Keells Holdings first conceptualized Cinnamon Life in 2010. Operating Cinnamon Grand and Cinnamon Lakeside, two large five star hotels, we knew that Colombo didn’t have the facilities to host large regional events. Cinnamon Life with its 800 roomed hotel, multiple banqueting and conferencing spaces and retail space is now positioned to host some of the biggest events in the region, particularly in South Asia,” he said.
 
 “It’s the largest private investment in Sri Lanka to date, and with its completion in the next year, we expect that Cinnamon Life will position Colombo as the leisure, entertainment and retail epicentre of the South Asian region,” he added.
 
 Balendra further added “These are challenging times, not just for us but for the world as a whole. With the right attitude, however, no challenge is insurmountable and as we, together with HKN, have ably demonstrated with the completion of these two towers.”

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