Spicing up local cinnamon industry

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 00:47 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • NDB inaugurates national initiative to empower industry stakeholders and promote ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’brand globally
By Cheranka Mendis Placing Ceylon cinnamon at its rightful place as the world’s finest, a giant national initiative titled ‘Cinnamon to the World’ was launched last evening by the National Development Bank (NDB) aiming to empower industry stakeholders and achieve recognition as an international brand synonymous with Sri Lanka’s unique identity. A long term strategy which is likely to be a five-year commitment, ‘Cinnamon to the World’ was rolled out to partner the industry, supporting cinnamon growers, exporters and cinnamon related product manufacturers in the country, with a vision to stimulate the growth of cinnamon exports in Sri Lanka. EDB, Spice Council of Sri Lanka and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce are strategic partners of the initiative. An industry that has brought in $ 12,630 million of revenue to the country in 2012 with an envisaged yield of over $ 1 billion in foreign exchange with other spices and allied products by 2020, cinnamon industry has large potential to boost its revenue and its yield through innovation and value addition. Having noted the need for the same, NDBs affiliation through the initiative will span from grass root level to home growers to large scale exporters, and will not only be limited to financing. It will encompass empowerment and strengthening of the support system, creating a conducive environment for accelerated growth. “NDB is delighted to support and spearhead a project which will hopefully be a five-year commitment to realise the full potential of the product to become a world class, value added industry,” NDB CEO Rajendra Theagarajah said. NDB has not forgotten its obligation as a development finance institution and will start root upwards to drive stakeholders, thereby boosting the overall sector. “Through the bank we cater close to 40% of the cinnamon exporters. Opportunity now exists to expand and strengthen this area. We will give the industry a renewed life.” Through the initiative, NDB will facilitate industry growth both directly and indirectly. While playing its role as a financier, it will also facilitate industry linkages enabling knowledge sharing and development of minor stakeholders of the industry. “We will also ease global market access for Ceylon Cinnamon by generating greater exposure through a robust international branding campaign.” To further the long term objective of the industry, NDB has concurrently launched a ‘grow cinnamon’ campaign through promoting microfinance facilities to home growers. This program is said to have been inaugurated in Matara recently with the disbursement of microfinance facilities (with special concessionary rates) to over 80 selected growers of the area. “We believe that modernisation, providing technology support, greater expertise, encouraging innovation and improvement of the overall quality of Ceylon Cinnamon would shift gears if the industry, accelerating it to the next level.” Theagarajah noted that NDB is working with the EDB, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, spice Council of Sri Lanka and Spice and Allied Products Traders Association (SAPTA) in fulfilling its goals. The inauguration of ‘Cinnamon to the World’ initiative was followed by the launch of an online information hub for Ceylon Cinnamon by Economic Development minister and NDB Chairman Sunil Wijesinha. Three technical sessions were held with UNIDO Technical Analyst/National Expert Shanaka Dharmapala, Brandix Director Udena Wickramasooriya and MJF Group Director Malik Fernando delivering presentations on benefits and costs of adapting food safety and quality compliance, industry competitiveness and sustainable export trade, solution story from Brandix and taking Ceylon Tea global. A panel discussion followed.