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Workshop with couture designer Andrea Brocca and fashion filmmaker Gourab Ganguli

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(IST – Colombo time)

the workshop “Next generation of Sri Lankan designers – Developing and innovating Sri Lankan craft for export” took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The event is the continuation of the recent 2022 research and mapping of the “Handloom, Batik & Dumbara Fashion Industry in Sri Lanka” prepared by Professor Robert Meeder, coordinated and facilitated by the Cultural Relations Platform for the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka.

“Inspiring, supporting and working with the next generation of craft leaders is so important to the industry and youth of Sri Lanka. Artisanal craft is the future, so many European brands and design houses want to collaborate with the crafts sector to reach a global platform. But the key is a shifting mindset from competition to collaboration, we need to work together across the sector – and this initiative and investment from the EU Sri Lanka and Cultural Relations Platform towards training and education is the perfect opportunity to bring the world to Sri Lanka and back again.” – Robert Meeder.

The workshop featured presentations from founders of Europe’s leading craft platform XTANT and high level speakers, namely Andrea Brocca, the world’s youngest couture designer and Gourab Ganguli, talented fashion photographer and documentary film-maker from India. Brocca discussed the need of creating higher quality and higher value products, while Ganguli addressed story telling, competition and exposition in Europe. Pioneering Indian fashion designer Chinar Farooqui from Injiri also joined the discussion and shared her journey from local craft to global presence and the importance of cross regional collaboration between India and Sri Lanka.

“It was an absolute pleasure to be here in Sri Lanka as part of this fantastic initiative from the Cultural Relations Platform and the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka. I got to inspire the next generation of designers and creatives that will work with their craft which is so rich and has so much to offer! I also got to come for the first time to my mother homeland and experience first-hand the warmth, beauty and explore how to work with Sri Lankan artisanal craft on an international luxury level.” – Andrea Brocca

“Having worked with leading Indian fashion designers, brands and XTANT, a platform for global craft pioneers, I am excited to be here in Sri Lanka as part of the educational workshop from the Cultural Relations Platform and European Delegation in Sri Lanka. I am thrilled at the possibilities of creating connections and collaborating from India to Sri Lanka to the world – it’s all about collaboration, sharing and partnerships!” – Gourab Ganguli.

During the workshop participants explored the potential of craft, understand and define the need for developing the sector for export and identify opportunities and partners to work, support and collaborate with. The event brought together 40 young creatives working in the craft sector and was a combination of live digital sharing sessions from EU experts and group discussions. The training aims to promote understanding of the craft and contemporary design for export, identify skills, design and craft opportunities within own network and explore how to add and create higher value through design intervention.

On the same day the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka hosted “Threads on Threads”, a conference on textile scheduled initially for 9 July 2022 and rescheduled to 15 October. “This conference brought together art historians, museum curators, and designers from Sri Lanka, South Asia and Europe to debate and discuss the history of textiles, their preservation, links and influences across borders, contemporary craftsmanship and the challenges of modern entrepreneurship”, says Ms. Anne Vaugier-Chatterjee, International Relations Officer for the EU Delegation in Sri Lanka.

The conference took place in the afternoon after the training and was livestreamed on the EUD YouTube channel. Key Sri Lankan industry representatives presented on various topics facing the industry at large. There was also an additional area of exploring what support is needed from the EU industry and thoughts on Sri Lanka, trends in investment and development towards craft, textiles and importing to EU.

About the Cultural Relations Platform

Launched in April 2020 by the European Union, the Cultural Relations Platform is designed to strengthen the EU’s ability to engage meaningfully with different audiences and stakeholders in its partner countries, through enhanced cultural relations and cultural cooperation. The Platform aims to promote and facilitate sustainable cultural exchange, support cooperation among cultural and creative sectors, and strengthen communities and networks of cultural practitioners. It supports and funds several activities in partner countries around the globe, including in collaboration with the EU delegations Worldwide.



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Tea industry targets USD 1.2 bn export turnover in 2023

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Sri Lanka will earn around USD 1.2 billion from tea exports for 2023 exporting around 260 million Kg, said Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, (SLTB) Niraj de Mel, last week.

SLTB is forecasting a modest growth for 2023 in comparison to the current year estimating an increased production of 290 million Kgs with export revenues expected to increase to USD 1.4 billion. Due to the depreciation of the rupee against the dollar, during the first half of the year and a shortage of tea, sales caught up and auction prices increased sharply from March 2022. Despite fuel shortages and logistic issues, the Regional Plantation Companies and smallholders have been able to continue the harvesting of green leaf throughout the year. When compared to 2020 and 2021 volumes, the Green Leaf price to smallholders has increased exponentially from July 2022 onwards.

“The tea smallholder who used to get around Rs. 90 per kg three years ago is now getting around Rs. 250 per kg and some estates have paid nearly Rs. 1,000 per kg. He said that though the glyphosate fertiliser ban is lifted planters should not use it heavily as a ‘global ban of glyphosate’ is imminent for the tea industry. Some countries like Taiwan already reject tea grown with the use of glyphosate.” He recalled that tea production reached an all time high with a record of 340 million Kgs in 2013. “After short increases during the period 2017 to 2019, tea production recorded a decrease in 2020, mainly due to the fallout from the pandemic and now we are taking several steps to increase production.”

The Tea board is offering a host of financial grants and loans to the tea growers, factories as well as for exporters. “These include subsidies for replanting, fertiliser for growers, special grants and loans for factories to upgrade their machinery and soft loans for exporters for packaging. These facilities exceed Rs. 4 billion per year.”

Tea Commissioner E. Edirisinghe said that they would also provide Rs. I million for tea factory expansion which comes as a grant. “In addition, we pay 3% of the capital when factories install solar,” he said.

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UTECH Technologies recognised at Sahasak Nimavum Innovation Awards

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UTECH Technologies (Pvt) Limited, Sri Lanka’s leading Industry 4.0 transformation solutions provider won the most prestigious innovation award, the DASIS award at the Sahasak Nimavum National Innovation Awards held recently. The DASIS Award is judged across all competing categories and only awarded to the innovation that shows novelty in technology and has been commercialized successfully. This award is judged by a learned panel of national and international judges including academia and industry experts. UTECH also won overall gold for best commercialized ICT innovation. UTECH has won many national and international awards, including the overall gold for “IoT technology of the year” at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) in 2021.

UTECH’s Managing Director, Riyad Ismail said, “Having many Sri Lankan industrial conglomerates as our clients, we have started exporting our hardware and software solutions to world markets.”

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David Pieris Group imparts three-wheeler mechanic skills to 20 women in Jaffna

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Producing skilled female labour and encouraging active participation of women in the economy of the Nation, the David Pieris Group successfully concluded another mechanical training programme in Jaffna recently.

The women who completed the programme titled ‘Empowering Women Through Technical Training’ received a NVQ (National Vocational Qualifications) Level 01 certificate and comprehensive 02 tool kits at the awards ceremony held at the North Gate Hotel, Jaffna on the 09th November 2022. 20 women from the Northern Province including the Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya Districts participated in this programme.

This programme, was initiated by the David Pieris Group in association with the Sri Lanka Women’s Bureau under the Ministry of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment in 2017 and is the first and only mechanic based technical Programme exclusively targeting women.

Speaking at the ceremony Samantha Silva, Chief Marketing Officer, David Pieris Motor Company (Pvt.) Ltd said; “This initiative will provide the technical training required to attend to any type of repair related to three-wheelers with the ultimate goal of creating trained, certified women mechanics, especially in the Northern Province which has an increased percentage of women led families and communities post three decades of civil war.”

The candidates for the programme were selected in collaboration with the DPMC Dealer network in the Northern Province. Upon completing the theory segment of the technical training, the candidates had the opportunity of attending to practical repair work at DPMC service dealers in their respective areas in order to gain necessary and valuable hands- on experience. At the conclusion of the programme subject to a final assessment, they were certified as mechanics.

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