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DPL empowers 3000 small holder rubber farmers in Moneragala

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Directors and staff from DPL with fertilizer at the distribution ceremony

By Steve A. Morrell

Dipped Products Ltd ( DPL) through its Firstlight Initiative, over a period of some 12 years, empowered around 3000 rubber farmers in Moneragala to expand their rubber growing initiative to ensure their rubber production is absorbed by the company. It is also significant that the company continues to assist these farmers and their families.

At Moneragala we spoke to these farmers who were enthusiastic about their supplier relationship with the company and continuous good standing with it consequent to supplying raw material, latex and sheet rubber; all of which was readily absorbed by the company.

Grower and rubber farmer Kariyawasam Pathirange Karunadasa, who we met at the fertilizer distribution ceremony in Moneragala, informed us about the impact of DPL on the prosperity of rubber growers. He said he commenced planting rubber in his small tract of land in the late ‘70s. He experienced some ups and downs in this planting venture because at that time prices were not attractive and although he was one of the first to plant rubber in the area he had been considering planting some other crops on his land due to fluctuating fortunes. But he continued with rubber.

However, DPL entered the area and bought sheet rubber as well as latex each day from site. The rubber farmers did not have to journey long distances to sell their raw material. Karunadasa said that because of the impact of DPL and their entry to Moneragala, rubber farmers prospered.

DPL paid good prices for their produce. Although rubber prices were currently low, the company paid extremely fair prices for produce collected. We also discussed the benefits of DPL with a few others as well who informed us of positive impact of DPL on production of rubber in Moneragala.

Additionally, each planter family was assisted with school books for their children and urgent cash for emergencies. Karunadasa also told us he was able to have by – pass surgery because his earnings from rubber were growing.

Karunadasa said payment was prompt and all proceeds were deposited in their bank accounts. He said farmers had full confidence in the services of DPL. He added that each rubber grower earned as much as Rs, 75,000 monthly. In some instances earnings exceeded that amount.

Similar success stories were recorded by us from at least five other rubber growers whom we interviewed.

At Moneragala, Deputy Managing Director, DPL R.H.Pushpika Janadheera said when DPL initiated their support for rubber farmers in Moneragala, the original number of farmers who supplied latex and crepe rubber was only around five. But currently, after about 12 years, the number grew to its current supplier base of over 3000 farmers who supply raw material exclusively to DPL.

He explained that this supplier base grew to its current number because of the integrity of the company in its dealings with rubber growers. The position that DPL was prompt in settling dues of rubber farmers was fully confirmed by these suppliers.

DPL assistance to families, including the provision of school books to children and similar Corporate Social Responsibility projects, further enhanced the reputation of the company.

During wet weather, rubber tapping is usually suspended because of expected damage to tapping panels. Such risks were minimized in Moneragala because of its dry zone character.

Production of rubber in Sri Lanka was only about one percent of world production. Leaders in rubber production in the world, Janadheera said, were Thailand and Indonesia, who each produced about 30 percent of the world’s rubber.

Apart from Moneragala, rubber was also purchased from Hanwella, Kuruwita and Bibile. DPL’s entry to Moneragala was also prompted by the need to encourage the use of fertilizer in small grower plots to increase production.

Fertiliser was issued in our presence to growers at subsidized rates.Janadheera said DPL’s advice to rubber farmers was based on instructions issued by the Rubber Research Institute. He confirmed active participation by Regional Plantation Companies in rubber growing.

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CEAT Kelani boosts earnings of local rubber industry

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CEAT Kelani representatives conducting training for rubber suppliers.

Increased production to meet local demand has enabled CEAT Kelani Holdings to increase its monthly purchases of natural rubber in the domestic market by as much as 35 per cent by September, the country’s leading tyre manufacturer has disclosed.

The company, which sources all of its natural rubber requirements locally, said its purchases in September 2020 alone would reach 500 tonnes (500,000kgs), generating Rs 150 million in revenue for Sri Lankan producers in areas such as Kegalle, Kalutara, Ratnapura and Monaragala.

In the pre-pandemic months of December 2019 to February 2020, CEAT Kelani’s purchases of rubber averaged 366 tonnes a month, generating average monthly revenue of Rs 107 million for local suppliers, the Company said.

“One of the major reasons for CEAT Kelani’s existence in Sri Lanka is the availability of natural rubber, and we have always been focussed on maximising local value addition,” the company’s Managing Director Ravi Dadlani observed. “With our ramping up of production in response to the temporary import restrictions imposed by the government, our contribution to local natural rubber producers has increased sharply, by as much as 40 per cent in value terms in just seven months.”

Increased production of truck, bus, radial and two-wheeler tyres by CEAT, while supporting the government’s efforts to conserve foreign exchange through import substitution, would also help local industry achieve the ‘V’ shaped post-pandemic recovery that is expected of it, Dadlani said.

CEAT Kelani engages with a base of nearly 30 dealers for the purchase of natural RSS rubber and interacts with them on daily basis. Besides daily procurement transactions, the Company imparts knowhow to the dealers to help them improve the quality of RSS grades. “We periodically audit dealers’ operations and help them maintain high quality standards,” Mr Dadlani added. “As a result many of our dealers are now recognised as “CEAT approved NR dealers.” This recognition not only helps them to be consistent suppliers to CEAT Kelani, it also helps them to establish themselves as quality suppliers of RSS grades to rest of the local industry.”

CEAT’s ramping up of production of truck and bus tyres since the start of the pandemic-linked lockdown has resulted in the Company now producing 100 per cent of the segment’s requirements and enabled the government to make a saving of Rs 11 billion a year in foreign exchange. The Company has also achieved an 85 per cent increase in the production of tyres for the ‘two-wheeler’ segment over the past three months; enabling a further saving of Rs 350 million a year through import substitution.

CEAT Kelani can currently produce two million tyres annually across multiple categories, and an addition of a further 200,000 Car and Van Radial tyres is imminent with new machinery being installed, pending the arrival of foreign technologists to commission the additional capacity.

Notably, CEAT Kelani Holdings has kept the prices of its tyres unchanged since December 2019 to support customers and the economy, despite the additional investments made in increasing capacity and an increase in market prices due to demand.

CEAT Kelani Holdings is considered one of the most successful India – Sri Lanka joint ventures in the manufacturing sector. The joint venture’s cumulative investment in Sri Lanka to date totals Rs 8 billion, inclusive of Rs 3 billion committed in January 2018 for expansion of volumes, technology upgrades and new product development. The company’s manufacturing operations in Sri Lanka encompass pneumatic tyres in the radial (passenger cars, vans and SUVs), commercial (Bias-ply and radial), motorcycle, three-wheeler and agricultural vehicle segments.

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Dialog Axiata introduces ‘Couple Blaster’ with unlimited calls and SMS

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Dialog Axiata PLC announced the launch of Sri Lanka’s Best Couple Plan ‘Couple Blaster’ facilitating all Dialog mobile customers with Unlimited Calls and SMS between two numbers for as low as Rs. 123 (including taxes) per month. The unique feature of this plan is that only one user needs to activate it for both users to enjoy the benefit of unlimited calls and SMS.Dialog Mobile postpaid customers can activate the package and register the couple number by dialling #171#.  Dialog Mobile prepaid customers can activate the package by reloading Rs. 123 and register the couple number by dialling #171#. The couple number to be registered can either be a Dialog mobile prepaid or postpaid mobile connection. Mobile postpaid customers will have the freedom to change the couple number as and when they require for a fee of Rs. 100, for each change made. Prepaid mobile customers can change the other registered number free of charge, once every month.Understanding the emergent consumer needs, the ‘Couple Blaster’ package acts as an ultimate accompaniment to the Unlimited YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp plans being offered by Dialog’s ‘Blaster’ range for all the digitally savvy youth who rely on relevant, accessible and affordable Voice, SMS and Data plans. This latest addition is testament to the company’s commitment to facilitate over 15 million of its customers.

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Sampath Bank supports medical research with special loan

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Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC (3rd from right) hands over the agreement to Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe, President-Elect, College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL), where several other senior officials were present.

Extending its support to the field of medical research during this global pandemic proactively, Sampath Bank joined hands with the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL) to offer a special low interest loan to Postgraduate Medical Officers in Public Health.

The Bank is offering loans of up to Rs.1 million at a fixed rate of 8.5% p.a. for the first year and a floating rate of 9% p.a. for the remaining period of the loan, for up to 7 years, with a grace period of up to 12 months.

This loan is aimed at supporting Postgraduate Medical Officers with the costs associated in their research at the University of Colombo’s Post Graduate Institute of Medicine. They can obtain this facility without any personal guarantee by simply providing an undertaking from their employer to remit their salary or the loan instalment amount to the account.

Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC handed over the formal agreement in this regard to Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe, President-Elect, College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka at the Sampath Bank Head Office premises in the presence of representatives from Sampath Bank and the CCPSL

“At Sampath Bank, we have always taken pride in recognising the intelligence, originality and inventiveness of our fellow Sri Lankans and are committed to powering the nation’s research and development efforts. Inspired by the passion and dedication of the countless heroes from across Sri Lanka’s healthcare sector, especially during this pandemic, we sought to extend our support to them. As part of this, we are delighted to support them with their research through a special loan for Medical Officers engaged in Postgraduate studies in Community Medicine at the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo. We look forward to seeing more pioneering medical research coming from our country in the future,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC.

“We are grateful to Sampath Bank for offering concessionary loans to Medical Officers pursuing in Postgraduate studies in Community Medicine at the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo. Coming at a time when there is a heightened need for medical research and education, this will go a long way in helping them with their research. We look forward to seeing other disciplines in postgraduate medical studies availing similar benefits for their courses too,” said Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe, President-Elect, College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka.

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