Special focus on SMEs and education at JIFT 2014

Wednesday, 29 January 2014 00:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Jaffna International Trade Fair (JIFT) 2014, the biggest international trade fair in the Northern Province, was held at the Duraiyappah Sports Stadium, Jaffna for the fifth consecutive year with a special focus given to micro and SME businesses and education service providers promoting higher educational programs for school leavers and university students. The Sri Lanka Food Processors Association (SLFPA) together with GIZ-SME Development participated as part of the joint efforts to promote the internationally recognised certificate course in food safety and food processing. This course will focus on capacity building for SME involved in the food industry, aimed in delivering innovative approaches and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure food quality meets local and international standards. The stall in the ‘Kalvi’ pavilion dedicated for education service providers attracted school leavers and university students. SLFPA President Hamilton Diaz said that they received over 100 registrations at the JITF for the community training on food processing that will be conducted in April 2014 by the trained trainers through a GIZ supported program. “Twenty-five students studying Food Science at the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Jaffna also registered themselves to participate at the master training sessions in March 2014, where they will be trained as trainers, under the same collaborative agreement with GIZ – SME Development. The community/retail training will be carried out right after the training of these master trainers and will be conducted in the Tamil language,” he said. SLFPA will also be working closely with a another GIZ program, Vocational Training North (VT-North) based in Kilinochchi, to train young school leavers interested in pursuing a career in lucrative food sector in the Northern Province. GIZ – SME Development was instrumental in linking the VTN personals to the SLFPA during the successful study visit to Thailand. The trade fair was officially declared open by Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Douglas Devananda. The Minister pledged his continuous support to work with Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Yarlpanam to address some of the key challenges faced by the industries in the peninsula. President of Chamber of Commerce & Industries of Yarlpanam K. Poornachandran said that there was no other event of this kind for the entire northern region and all businesses and locals of the region looked forward to this event. “The exhibition is considered the best meeting point between them and the rest of the country and the world,” he said. “The dynamics of the market in Jaffna are gradually changing. Earlier it was unknown territory but today everything is changing with the massive amount of infrastructure and livelihoods development in the area. There is now a chance of sustained growth and expansion of investment and JIFT 2014 provided the ideal opportunity to meet service and solutions providers,” he added. Founded in 1997 as an advocacy Group Sri Lanka Food Processors Association currently consists of over 140 member companies. Committed to development of the country’s processed food and beverage industry the Association consist of members from all relevant sub sectors addressing such issues as national policy, intra regional cooperation, technology, knowledge transfer and marketing. The Group offers leadership to a small but vibrant national processed food industry. Vital to the island nation’s agro based economy the sector directly employs over 300,000 persons while supporting over four million back-stream producers. Through the Sri Lankan-German SME Development Program, implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and Planning, GIZ aims to support a cohesive policy framework that enables SMEs to grow in an inclusive manner, enhance competitiveness of SMEs due to technology transfer and innovation, improve access to finance for SMEs, and enable SMEs to take advantage of green technologies and maintain nature’s capital for sustainable growth.