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Sri Lanka Embassy in Germany extending its support to agri exporters

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A webinar focusing on educating Sri Lankan agri products exporters on how best to connect with the right buyer in EU market, “The Art of Approaching a Buyer in Agri Products Sector” was held on 31 August, 2021 with over 180 participants.

This was the 3rd of a series of highly successful webinars being organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Germany in collaboration with the Import Promotion Desk of Berlin and Export Development Board of Sri Lanka, to support exporters in better understanding the EU market, with a special emphasis on organic agri products.

Chairman, Export Development Board of Sri Lanka Suresh De Mel, delivering the welcome remarks, highlighted the importance of a professional approach in reaching out to buyers especially in the current context of COVID-19, which has limited the engagements to a virtual world.

The highly interactive forum was hosted by Lead Expert on Market Intelligence Gustavo Ferro,  and with International Trade Consultant Vanessa Kuth, who shared their expertise on strategies and approaches to identifying the ‘right buyer’ for sustainable business relations and elaborated on the importance of strategic communication, which is critical when entering a healthy business partnership with European buyers. The two experts also shared the latest information on the European market access points, wholesaler/importer requirements, packaging and labelling, and retail market requirements.

A case study was presented by Chairman and founder of WORGA NATURALS Nishantha Jayathilaka, a Sri Lankan exporter of organic dehydrated fruits and organic spices, on how he successfully entered the European market with the support of IPD, and his firsthand experience of dealing with buyers in EU.

Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Germany Manori Unambuwe commended the support extended by the experts, officials of the EDB, IDP and the Foreign Ministry in this initiative and extended an invitation to participate at the upcoming webinar on “European Standards and Certifications” scheduled to be held towards end September 2021. Ambassador Unambuwe also briefed on the initiatives undertaken by the Mission to collaborate with German organic agriculture agencies in Sri Lanka’s journey towards a fully organic agriculture nation.



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Business

NSB Chairman hands over annual report to President

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Dr. Harsha Cabral, Chairman of the National Savings Bank, formally presented the bank’s annual report for the year 2022 to Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization & National Policies President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday (01).

The report, titled “Strengthening Our Strength,” provides an integrated overview of the bank’s performance within the economic framework and its engagements with the social and environmental sectors.

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The Central Bank of Sri Lanka relaxes its Monetary Policy stance

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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’

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* 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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