Agro processing enterprise development promoted

Thursday, 3 February 2011 00:31 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) organised a very informative seminar focusing mainly on the fruits and vegetables sectors recently. Approximately 40 participants, mainly from the agricultural sector and related service organisations, attended the seminar.

This seminar was a follow-up of the Roundtable Forum  on Small & Medium Agro-Processing Enterprises (SMAE) Development held in Malaysia last month at which Chairman IFCO Sarath De Silva, Director H.J.S. Condiments A. Pathirage and General Manager Agri Education Training & Consultancy for National Agriculture Development CIC Agribusiness Senarath de Zoysa participated.

These three representatives shared the experience they gained at the forum with their fellow members. Silva, who made the presentation, spoke on the business models for procurement from small farmers, product innovation, differentiation, branding and labelling, quality management and compliance with standards, supply chain efficiency and logistics, enabling policies and public goods, financial services and the private sector support institutions such as commodity associations, chambers of agriculture and commerce, industry federations, etc.

With the objective of assisting those engaged in this field to upgrade their products and enhance their knowledge, he gave an insight into the products, methods of cultivation, packaging, etc. handled by the other 10 participating countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam) and compared them with Sri Lanka. He projected on the large scale operations in China, Malaysia and Thailand with the small operations in countries such as Laos.

The following issues were brought up by the participants at the open discussion which followed the presentation:

•    Lack of awareness on the availability of hybrid seeds in Sri Lanka.

•    Necessity to identify and concentrate on growing potential, niche market products. It was reported that there is great demand for pineapples but Sri Lanka is unable to meet the demand due to the shortfall in production.

•    Lack of proper training for local farmers – since they are not familiar with modern farming practices their yields are low and they are not in a position  to pay back their loans.

•    Shortage of lands for cultivation.

•    Lack of agricultural extension field staff to keep the farmers advised of the latest technical developments in agricultural research.

Silva, Pathirage and De Zoysa agreed to assist those interested in aspects of modern training practices and any other advice relevant to the fruits, vegetables and agriculture sectors.