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Local production of live food for aquaculture to slash the import bill



Manufacturing and packaging plant in Hambantota


By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The local Artemia rearing industry is poised to replace the necessity of importing cysts thus helping to save the outflow of foreign exchange spent on aquaculture.

Artemia cysts are shrimp eggs with an excellent hatching rate and Artemia cysts nauplii are well-known as the ideal live food for ornamental fish and prawns in farms.

Nishantha Sandabarana, Chairman Lanka Salt Limited (LSL) in Hambatota told The Island Financial Review that the Company is now in the process of taking  steps to increase the production of Artemia. It is a microscopic invertebrate living being which inhabits in salterns, a source that provides high protein nutritional value for ornamental fish and prawns in farms.” he said.

“At present it is naturally germinating at the Palatupanna salterns close to Bundalama wildlife reserve and with that we are able to manufacture Artemia for local consumption to meet about 10 percent of the total local requirement. To increase this 50 acres have been allocated within the salterns to start producing them in a big way, ” Sandabarana said.

He said that Artemia Cysts nauplii are well-known as the ideal live food for ornamental fish and prawns and there is a huge local and international market for the product. Currently Sri Lanka imports 90 percent of the local requirement, and we are on track to boosting the local production of this feed important for aquatic animals. Encouragingly, the Artemia varieties that are found in local lagoons are unique with an excellent 80 percent hatching rate, he said.

Lanka Salt Limited (LSL) Chairman Nishantha Sandabarana shows a premium quality locally produced tin of dry Artemia cysts, a live feed used in aquaculture. A 150-gram tin costs Rs. 1,700 which he says is way cheaper than the imported stuff of similar quality.

He said that they have sent several officials to Vietnam to further train them on the techniques. “Once the initial phase is fully in progress we should be able to double the production. At present we are producing 1,500 tins of 150 grams for a year, he said.

” The nutritive value of the freshly hatched nauplii and the advantage of using the dry cysts as a source of live feed brine shrimp is highly important. Artemia cysts are used very extensively throughout the world in most of the hatcheries of both freshwater and marine fishes and crustaceans”, Sandabarana said.

LSL Assistant Production Manager Sachira Wickramaarchchi said that until recently the entire world demand of brine shrimp cysts was met by a few commercial companies from San Francisco, Utah and Canada.

“Because of the heavy demand, the price of Artemia cysts went up and it seems likely that the shortage of Artemia cysts might become a major constraint on the growth and development of aquaculture in future,” Wickramaarchchi said.

The National Aquatic Resources Agency (NARA) initiated a project on Artemia culture many years ago having realized the importance of Artemia as a live feed in aquaculture. An initial survey was conducted along the southern, western and northern coast of Sri Lanka as a precursor of the project.

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The Central Bank of Sri Lanka relaxes its Monetary Policy stance




The Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, at its meeting held on 31 May 2023, decided to reduce the Standing Deposit Facility Rate (SDFR) and the Standing Lending Facility Rate (SLFR) of the Central Bank by 250 basis points to 13.00 per cent and 14.00 per cent, respectively.

The Board arrived at this decision with a view to easing monetary conditions in line with the faster than expected slowing of inflation, gradual dissipation of inflationary pressures and further anchoring of inflation expectations. The commencing of such monetary easing is expected to provide an impetus for the economy to rebound from the historic contraction of activity witnessed in 2022, while easing pressures in the financial markets.

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‘Damro-revived Agalawatte Plantations in impressive start to 2023’



* Q1 Revenue grows 49.7% to Rs 1.489 billion

* Pre-tax profit up 44.6% to Rs 417.2 million

* Major investments in replanting of rubber and tea to continue in 2023

Agalawatte Plantations PLC (APL) has reported impressive revenue and profit growth in the first quarter of 2023, consolidating on the remarkable turnaround achieved subsequent to the acquisition of a majority stake in the Company by the Damro Group.

Revenue grew by 49.7% to Rs 1.489 billion for the three months ending 31st March 2023, with revenue from tea doubling to Rs 796.2 million over the first quarter of 2022, and revenue from oil palm up 57.5% to Rs 305.1 million. Rubber contributed Rs 216.9 million to the Company’s top line in the quarter reviewed.

Stable tea prices and an increased oil palm crop enabled APL to post pre-tax profit of Rs 417.2 million for the three months, reflecting growth of 44.6%. Total assets grew by 21.2% since end 2022 to Rs 6.448 billion as at 31st March 2023, and the Company’s net assets value per share improved by 23.5% to Rs 26.09.

Nalaka Gunathilake, Managing Director / CEO of Agalawatte Plantations described the growth achieved in the first quarter of 2023 as extremely encouraging in the context of the Company’s achievement of net profit of Rs 1.76 billion for the year ended 31st December 2022, the highest profit in its history.

Once debt-ridden and at risk of liquidation, Agalawatte Plantations became part of the Damro Group in 2017 when the latter acquired the majority stake in the Company and infused Rs 3.2 billion for the payment of unsettled dues and statutory obligations. Timely investments in replanting, factory modernisation, redefining strategic focus and leadership transformed the Company into the strong corporate it is today, Gunathilake said. Good management practices together with agricultural inputs and professional human resources management policies too played pivotal role in this turnaround.

APL produces around 2 million kgs of latex annually and the company has facilities to manufacture Latex Crepe, Ribbed Smoked Sheets (RSS) and Centrifuged latex depending on the demand in the market. The Company’s tea production is around 2 million kgs per year and this volume is expected to increase with the availability of chemical fertilizer and agrochemicals in the country. APL also produces more than 11 million kgs of oil palm crop annually, generating substantial returns for the Company.

With the Company’s acquisition by Damro Group a strategic management decision was taken to prioritise replanting across all estates under APL management. An extent of over 2,600 acres of aged and uneconomical rubber land has since been replanted with high yielding clones to ensure company’s productivity and sustainability in the years ahead.

The Company disclosed that a further extent of over 1,000 acres is to be replanted in 2023 and land preparation and preliminary work in these areas has already commenced. In order to support the company’s ambitious rubber replanting programme, Agalawatte Plantations has its own network of rubber nurseries and has established 400,000 seedlings in six regional nurseries to supply healthy and vigorous plants.

Between 2017-2022, an extent of over 263 acres of tea has also been replanted and the preliminary work on another 150 acres has been commenced in 2023. Five tea nurseries with 900,000 plants will supply the requirement of high yielding vigorous tea plants for the replanting programme.

APL said it is gearing up for a new phase of growth in the tea plantations by obtaining system and quality management certifications. The company has obtained the Rain Forest Alliance (RA) certification for its upcountry tea estates while all tea manufacturing facilities have obtained the ISO 22000 Food Safety Management System certification.

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Limitless outgoing voice facilities to any network



Dialog Enterprise, the corporate ICT solutions arm of Dialog Axiata PLC, is pleased to announce the launch of Dialog Bizpack Unlimited, the ultimate worry-free voice solution for Small Office Home Office (SOHO) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Sri Lanka.

In today’s fast-paced world, businesses require a reliable and cost-effective solution to stay connected and competitive. Dialog Bizpack Unlimited is designed to cater to the unique communication needs of SOHOs and SMEs, providing them with a comprehensive package that offers unparalleled benefits.

This self-managed platform provides all the key intercom features, such as short code dialling between extensions, call forwarding, call transferring, data add-ons, call hunting, and more, ensuring that small business owners can stay connected with their employees, clients, and suppliers, no matter where they are. Additionally, with Bizpack Unlimited’s flat monthly fee of Rs 499+ applicable taxes, small business owners can enjoy limitless outgoing voice facilities to any network, making it an ideal option for businesses seeking reliable and cost-effective communication, along with value-added services, allowing them to stay connected without any interruptions or limitations.

Moreover, the package is easy to set up and requires no complex or time-consuming hardware installation, which means that business owners may not require any technical expertise. Additionally, with no upfront payments required, small businesses can enjoy seamless and uninterrupted communication without any financial burden.

As a small business owner, you understand the challenges of running a business, and communication is key to your success. With Dialog Bizpack Unlimited, you can rest assured that your communication needs are taken care of, allowing businesses to communicate seamlessly with their customers and clients while focusing on growing their business.

Navin Pieris, Group Chief Enterprise Officer, Dialog Enterprise, Dialog Axiata PLC, said, “Unlimited free calls to any local network for an attractive monthly rental is a service that many small enterprises have looked forward to, and today we are proud to introduce just such a solution to the market. At Dialog Enterprise, we strive to offer innovative and cost-effective voice and data solutions so that businesses may thrive, and Bizpack Unlimited is one of our latest efforts in these endeavors.”

Dialog Enterprise invites all SOHO and SME enterprises to join Dialog’s seamless and expanded communication network across the country to grow their operations while seamlessly connecting with their customers and enhancing business relationships with Bizpack Unlimited.

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