Keells improving lives of farmers to provide freshness to customers

Friday, 25 October 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Farmers from Keppetipola and Welimada who have strong partnerships with Keells 

Keells, with the recently launched ‘Fresh because of you’ campaign made several investments and improvements to processes to ensure the customer receives the freshest produce at the store. Farmers play a key role in this, and over the years, Keells has worked together with the farmers and the farming community to ensure the produce is the best quality from the source. 

Keells has partnered strategically with organisations and together, has looked at how the agricultural practices overall can be uplifted to ensure the end-product quality is improved. The teams at the vegetable and fruit collection centres across the country in areas such as Sooriyaweva, Pannegamuwa, Keppetipola, Thambuttegama, Jaffna, and Sigiriya ensure they work together with the farmers in the region to improve not just the quality of produce, but also to disseminate good agricultural practices and thereby introducing sustainable farming practices. Some of the ongoing work include:

Training and resources to maximise yield and minimise wastage. Best farming practices, fertiliser management and post-harvest techniques executed with the collaboration of the Department of Agriculture, Institute of Post-Harvest Technology and Industrial Technology Institute.

Facilitating 50 training programs training over 1,600 farmers on GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture.

Effective water management systems such as drip or sprinklers were introduced to farmers by Keells to manage resources more effectively, for cost efficiency and thereby reduce cost of production. Keells also encourages Protective agricultural practices i.e. greenhouse cultivation as this type of cultivation minimises the impact of changes in weather and thus reduces potential shortages during adverse weather conditions. 

Ethical and sustainable sourcing has always been an area Keells has focused on introducing to farmers. Keells ensures that farmers get a fair price for their produce and have created a market for the produce, providing stability and confidence to farmers and thereby uplifting the wider farming communities. Farmers are also encouraged to save as Keells facilitates the opening of bank accounts for transactions for the farmers.

“The strong relationships built with our farmers have resulted in the ability for Keells to be able to address quality issues at source and provide not only the best produce for our customers but also make it a rewarding partnership for our farmers. When we work with farmers we not only ensure that the end customer as well as the farmer benefits from it but also look at ways and means of improving the communities our farmers are in,” says John Keells Group President – Retail Charitha Subasinghe.

He further added that Keells along with the John Keells Foundation (JKF), the Corporate Social Responsibility unit of John Keells Group (JKH) and implemented by the Gateway Language Centre, provides scholarship on English Language soft skills to students selected from areas where Keells collection centres are based. This overall then delivers what Keells strives to achieve ‘Improving the quality of life for the nation’.

In the words of Namal a farmer in Keppetipola, “Keells has shared best practices and technical advice and has helped to increase the quantity and quality of his produce and reduce wastage. Not only this Keells provides a good price and helps save by depositing money into a bank account.” A banker turned farmer who has now been linked with Keells for the last 10+ years has been loyally supplying produce to Keells due to the cordial relationship and fair prices he gets. 

Thus, Keells firmly believes and will continue to work with farmers to improve the quality of fresh produce and also to ensure sustainable agricultural practices are utilised to ensure the farmers get the best yield in the long run. Keells will continue to provide more training and resources to the betterment of farmers and the farming community at large.

A subsidiary of John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate in the Colombo Stock Exchange operating over 70 companies in seven diverse industry sectors. JKH provides employment to over 13,000 persons and has been ranked as Sri Lanka’s ‘Most Respected Entity’ for 13 years. Whilst being a full member of the World Economic Forum and a Member of the UN Global Compact, JKH drives its vision of ‘empowering the nation for tomorrow’, through the John Keells Foundation.