President presents Cargills Saru Bima Farmer Citizen’s Awards to 18 farming community leaders

Monday, 20 April 2015 01:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday presented 18 vegetable and dairy farmers from across Sri Lanka with Cargills Saru Bima Farmer Citizen’s awards at a ceremony held at the BMICH. The occasion also saw over 200 students receiving scholarships for higher education while 500 farmers received medical insurance policies during the ceremony. Cargills Saru Bima is a fund established in 2008 in Thanamalwila through which the company initiated a concept of utilising 50 cents for each kilogram of vegetables purchased from the farmers in the community for community empowerment.               Creating direct markets for over 10,000 farmers Speaking about the concept, Cargills Deputy Chairman Ranjit Page said: “ The relationships we establish with farmers is a bond Cargills has with the fields they sow, the families they nurture, the communities they live in and the schools where their children study. Cargills has therefore initiated the Cargills SaruBima fund which is used to empower agriculture communities and their children.” Bond with farming communities integral to Cargills business model From Thanamalwila the funds were later extended to Ruwalwala, Boralanda, Jaffna and Kilinochchi. “As at 2014, Cargills has awarded over 250 scholarships across all these locations which included many medical, engineering and commerce stream university students. In addition, more than 3,000 farmer families have benefited from community facilities provided through the funds. Many would call it a CSR project but we have made it an integral part of our core business. Today it’s built into our business model and defines who we are and what we stand for as an enterprise,” Page added. Two hundred students from agriculture communities receive university, Advanced Level and Year 5 Scholarships while 500 farmers receive medical insurance policies.   For the year 2014/15, benefits included 204 scholarships with 35 university and vocational education scholarships, 65 Advanced Level scholarships and 104 Year 5 Scholarships. In addition 18 exemplary farmers were recognised for their service to agriculture and the local community with the Cargills SaruBima Farmer Citizens Award 2015 presented by the President. The event brought together more than 1000 farmers from vegetable and dairy farmer organisations from across the island and was also attended by officials of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Department of Agriculture (DOA), Horticulture Research and Development Institute (HORDI), Provincial Directors, Divisional Secretaries, university academia as well as members from civil society and the diplomatic community. Issuing Issuing a message ahead of the ceremony President  Sirisena said: “Cargills has been successful in popularising the supermarket concept which provides to the consumer the convenience of purchasing daily household essentials under one roof. I appreciate the initiatives taken by Cargills to maintain a price balance between the producer and the consumer by resorting to the direct purchase of agricultural produce from farmers. This company has taken a further step forward by establishing a fund through which the children of farming families are granted assistance to fulfil their educational pursuits.  This is a very commendable project which should be emulated by other organisations too,” Cargills (Ceylon) Plc first engaged the local agriculture community in 1999 with the commencement of its first collection centre for vegetables. Today its reach has created direct markets for over 10,000 farmers across Sri Lanka, sourcing 80,000 metric tons of fruits and vegetables and 90,000 litres of milk every day. Cargills agribusiness teams work directly with farmers to overcome challenges, providing knowledge and resources to help farmers to succeed.

 Govt. committed to building rural economy: President

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday reiterated the Government's commitment to boost the rural economy. He also said that the Government was committed to strengthening the private sector as well as the public sector. President Sirisena made this assurance while addressing the gathering at the Cargills Sarubima Govi Purawesi Awards ceremony held at the BMICH in Colombo on Sunday. While emphasising that the Government gave priority to building a local economy based on agriculture irrespective of foreign investments, said that it was committed to providing necessary inducements to the private sector as well as the state sector.     He said that similar to the priority being given to strengthening state administration and management, encouragement and sponsorship will also be given to the private sector to bring in investments and strengthen the market. Speaking further, the President said that although the country received local and international investments the priority of the Government was always vested with agriculture and it was the intention of the Government to build a local economy based on agriculture.     Noting that there was a big gap between the agriculture specialists and the farmers, the President suggested narrowing the gap and emphasised that while protecting the traditional agricultural methods, modern technology and expertise should be utilised. President Sirisena pointed out that farmers should take steps to produce what is needed by the market utilising new technology and expert knowledge. Minister Duminda Dissanayake, Deputy Minister Jagath Pushpakumara and Director General of the Agriculture Department Dr. Rohan Wijekoon were also present at the event.