Sri Lanka Agribusiness Firms Reach out to Farmers

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sri Lanka’s agribusiness companies have started a programme to get corporate executives to volunteer their services help farmers improve productivity, reduce waste and get better access to markets.

The aim of the programme, launched under the aegis of the National Agribusiness Council (NAC), is to get member firms to provide two executives who will visit rural farmers during their leave period and help solve problems, said Mario de Alwis, former president of NAC.

“We want to create an opportunity for talented executives from private enterprise to help rural entrepreneurs become stronger.

“We’re looking at asking companies to join as member firms where they can have a minimum of two volunteers who personally must be interested in the scheme.”

The idea is that the executives will volunteer their 14 days of annual leave and the company is supposed to give an extra 14 days leave so they have about one month during the year in which they are supposed to do at least one project.

To support the programme, the NAC is setting up offices in the newly established farmer councils and will support them with the initial capital after which they are expected to become self-sustained, de Alwis said.

Executives will help for instance by helping farmers who have difficulty in getting credit.

“We will look to our member firms and see if we have a banker member and ask them to release a member and visit farmers with credit problems,” de Alwis explained.

“He will go and do a spot analysis and see what the problem is and help farmers to set up project reports and get loans. We hope he will continue to nurture them with advice in marketing.”

De Alwis said the agribusiness sector is trying to bring connectivity between the weaker and stronger sections of society, to change attitudes and get people to be more sympathetic to the rural poor.

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Source: Sri Lanka Community Portal (link opens in a new window)