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WNPS Anawilundawa wetland regeneration project achieves key milestones with generous support of Hemas Plc

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Sri Lanka’s current mangrove cover, estimated to be 15-000 19,000 Hectares, is a mere 0.3% of the total landmass and is critically low, putting the island at risk from the impact of climate change and natural disasters such as storm surges and Tsunamis. Mangroves are an integral part of our forests and constitute about 2% of Sri Lanka’s total forest cover – they are very much a part of the fast dwindling 17% of our primary forests.

WNPS’s Accelerated Natural Regeneration of Mangroves (ANRM) Project was launched with the goal of regenerating the damaged mangrove habitats in Anawilundawa Wetlands and building sustainable livelihoods in surrounding communities. The project aims to restore approx. 45 hectares (110 acres) of the mangrove ecosystem at Anawilundawa, which have been destroyed due to shrimp farming.

WNPS partnered the Department of Wildlife Conservation on this project in the first half of 2020 and despite the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the project has successfully reached its initial milestones including recording of the faunal and floral species in a section of the surrounding habitats, creating a mangrove plant nursery using harvested seeds from the site and establishing baseline data for the project.

This important conservation project is to be conducted by Sri Lanka’s Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), Department of Forests (FD), Wayamba University (Science Partner), facilitated by the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS).

Referred to as “Blue forests” coastal and marine ecosystems consisting of mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and tidal salt marshes are some of the most efficient carbon sequestration tools found in nature. They can store up to ten times more CO2 per unit area than tropical rainforest, making them a powerful weapon against global warming and climate. These natural ecosystems also play a key role in the country’s coastal protection and provides protection from storm surges and catastrophic events like floods & tsunamis. Not only this, mangrove ecosystems provide sustainable livelihoods for many rural communities.

In the late 1990’s over 50% of Sri Lanka’s Mangrove habitat was destroyed to establish Shrimp Aquaculture, severely affecting the functioning of coastal ecosystems. This destruction of ecosystems is compounded by the fact that it also cripples livelihoods that depended on Mangroves associated small industries like Artisanal Fishing, Firewood, Herbal Medicine and Tourism. Anawilundawa Wetlands was one such damaged habitat, which is a wetland ecosystem of global importance and one of six RAMSAR sites in Sri Lanka.

It is home to over 150 species of birds; both resident and migratory, 20 species of mammals and over 70 species of butterflies; whilst over 50% of the country’s freshwater fish species are found in these waters. Human intervention on restoration of mangrove habitats is needed to ensure that this destroyed habitat is brought back to its original glory, comprising all flora and fauna that were specific to the ecosystem.

This requires the careful systematic, scientific process of Accelerated Natural Mangrove Regeneration, with minimal external intervention. In addition, a critical dimension of this process is the engagement of local communities to ensure the regeneration of sustainable livelihoods in the communities that live around these mangrove habitats. The ANRM project takes into account all these elements and WNPS hopes to continue with upcoming project plans, now that the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us.

WNPS is thankful to Hemas Consumer Brands who have come on board as a long-term financial partner on the ANRM project, to assist the regeneration of mangrove habitats as well as to enhance local livelihoods. Part of Sri Lanka’s Hemas Group, Hemas Consumer Brands, is a leading manufacturer in beauty and personal care sector. Their operations are focused on the three components of Sustainability; Environment, Social, and Economic and partner with conservation organisations on several environmental conservation projects to protect and restore Sri Lanka’s natural environment.

Founded in 1894, the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS) focuses on the conservation of wildlife, forests, marine eco-systems as well as endangered species. Their mission is to protect Sri Lanka’s rich natural heritage by galvanizing policymakers, scientists, activists, nature lovers and the public; to preserve nature and wildlife through sustained conservation activities built on science, legislation, education and citizen mobilization. For the last 127 years WNPS has been working with many stakeholders including the government, scientists, policy makers, conservationists, educators, activists and the private sector, to protect Sri Lanka’s rich natural heritage of flora and fauna, for our future generations.

If you would like to find out more about the ANRM project, please visit www.wnpssl.org or email info@wnpssl.org



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ComBank partners with PayHere to offer Q+ users a unique eCommerce experience

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Commercial Bank’s Group Chief Marketing Officer Mr Hasrath Munasinghe (2nd from right) and PayHere Founder/CEO, Mr Dhanika Perera (2nd from left) exchange the agreement in the presence of PayHere Head of Developments, Mr Karvin Mendis (extreme left) and the Bank’s Senior Manager – Card Centre Mr Seevali Wickramasinghe.

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has partnered with PayHere, Sri Lanka’s largest Aggregated Internet Payment Gateway Service, to offer users of its Q+ Payment App a unique, user-friendly and secure eCommerce experience.

Commercial Bank customers can now conveniently pay for their purchases via the Q+ app to over 3300 registered PayHere Online Payment Service enabled merchants. The Bank’s Credit, Debit and Prepaid Card holders who pay through Q+, the fastest-growing QR app in the country, will not be required to tap in their card details as this information is already stored on the app, the Bank said.

Payments to PayHere merchants via the Q+ Online Pay facility will enhance customer convenience as the transaction will only require the entering of users’ mobile numbers registered with the app. Disbursements via Q+ require authentication using a static PIN which ensures the safety and security of transactions, making the Q+ App more secure than a normal card as the customers’ sensitive data is not transmitted to merchant websites.

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TAMAP drives Stakeholder Forum for Good Agriculture Practice

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Secretary of Agriculture Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe addressing the forum

The inaugural meeting of the GAP Stakeholder Forum was held with the support of the Technical Assistance to the Modernisation of Agriculture Programme (TAMAP) at the Department of Agriculture in Peradeniya on 17 November 2021. Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest.

The Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) programme, introduced by the Department of Agriculture in 2016, was a promising step taken to minimise adverse impacts of agriculture on the ecosystem and human health while meeting steadily rising demand for food. Although the programme had an encouraging start, the overall conversion of farmers to implementing GAP remained low. Over the past six years, 1500 farmers registered as GAP producers out of the 1.8 million farmers in Sri Lanka. To align with the current policy of the Sri Lankan Government to improve ecological friendliness of farming, it is important to transform all production units towards GAP farms.

Studies showed that to achieve this goal, the GAP implementation strategies needed to be updated and infused into the mainstream agriculture, facilitating a quick transformation of the current approach towards a macro-level system. Therefore, the requirement for a rapid strategizing of such an approach followed by periodic review of GAP performance arose. This initiated the need for a stakeholder forum.

The key purpose of the forum is to provide a common platform for key stakeholders to meet in formulating a strategy to mainstream SL GAP, propose a way forward for implementation such recommendations, and to regularly review program performance and adopt remedial action to achieve GAP objectives.

Prof. Udith K Jayasinghe, Secretary Ministry of Agriculture who chaired the Forum in his opening statement commented, “GAP programme has emerged a solution to challenges faced by Sri Lankan agriculture today to improve safety of users and ensuring good environmental performance. Reinforced by facilitating legislation and approved national standards, GAP programme provides a strong foundation towards addressing above concerns.”.

Over forty participants were present at the forum, representing the various stakeholder groups comprising producers, distributers, SL GAP team, academics, and market players. Ms D. S. Ratnasinghe, Addl. Director (Agribusiness) and Dr W. M. W. Weerakoon, National Coordinator outlined the status of the GAP programme and the challenges faced.

The deliberations during the forum were broken down into five main areas: Technical, financial, institutional, and social problems faced by GAP stakeholders on maintaining production, supply, product quality, and consumer trust. Gaps in technology transfer and adoption, marketing and quality control measures and means for increased rate of adoption and GAP farm certification; Gaps in current GAP process and procedures, user friendliness and applicability; Future technological needs towards increasing production, productivity, product quality and ecosystem sustainability; and Policy needs for increased adoption of GAP to mainstream GAP into national agriculture agenda.

Prof. G. Pushpakumara, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya and Ms Jayantha Ilankoon, ADG (Dev) moderated the forum through group activity, outcome presentations and strategic discussions on the way forward.

Concluding the forum, Dr Nihal Atapattu, stated, “TAMAP, along with the European Union that provided the funding support is very pleased to have assisted to launch several interventions that would promote recognition of GAP as a premier means of strengthening Sri Lankan agriculture in sustainably meet requirements of the domestic and export markets. TAMAP expects that the Stakeholder Forum launched today will be a milestone event in advancing GAP to achieve its potential in Sri Lanka”.

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HNB’s commitment to expand e-commerce and digital payments wins Daraz award

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Daraz Managing Director Rakhil Fernando (fourth from left) handing over the award to HNB Head of Cards – Gauthami Niranjan. Also present (from left): Daraz Partnerships Nimesh Dasanayake, Daraz Senior Manager – Prepayments Sandamina Rajapaksha, Daraz Head of Partnerships Dulika Jayamanne, HNB Cards Business Development Executive - Ashokan Harishanna, HNB Assistant Manager - Cards Business Development and Portfolio Management - Imanka Keshini Hikkaduwage and HNB Cards Business Development Executive – Roshan Chaminda Perera.

HNB has been recognized by Daraz for exceptional contribution to its growth, in an independent endorsement of Sri Lanka’s leading private bank’s commitment to expand e-commerce and digital payments throughout the country.

The award, for the ‘Card Base with Highest Overall Growth’, was presented to HNB at the ‘Daraz Payment Partner Performance Awards 2021’. HNB, which ranks among Daraz’s best banking partners, recorded the highest growth on total payment volume, buyer engagement and total transactions month-on-month, for both credit and debit cards for the year 2020-2021.

“This award is an important validation how the local economy – both businesses and consumers – are benefiting from HNB’s cohesive programme to drive greater adoption of e-commerce and digital payments,” HNB Head of Cards, Gauthami Niranjan said. “These efforts are particularly significant at present, given how digital and contactless payments can assist in reducing the spread of the pandemic and support the Bank’s and the country’s vision to transform Sri Lanka to a cashless economy.”

Currently, HNB Cardholders enjoy multiple offers on Daraz, Sri Lanka’s leading online marketplace, a wholly-owned subsidiary of global e-commerce giant, the Alibaba Group. These include zero-interest instalment plans up to 48 months with attractive discounts for HNB Credit and Debit Cards and 10% off site-wide on Daraz for all HNB Credit Cards on purchases made during Saturdays. In addition, HNB tied up with Daraz for its 11:11 and Black Friday sales, which provided HNB Cardholders access to a range of offers and massive discounts.

HNB has been a pioneer in Sri Lanka’s banking industry in the digital banking and digital payments space. These include the launch of digital wallet and payment app, HNB SOLO and introducing Asia’s first-ever fitness-linked savings product in the form of the HNB FIT Savings Account.

With 254 customer centres across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically-innovative banks, having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking. HNB has a national rating of AA- (lka) by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd. The bank was also ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine for five consecutive years. HNB was also declared Best Sub-Custodian Bank in Sri Lanka at the Global Finance Awards 2020.

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