The agriculture research done by LIRNEasia included a study into the knowledge and information gaps in the Sri Lankan rubber supply chain. Members of the research team, Sriganesh Lokanathan (Senior Research Manager) and Nilusha Kapugama (Research Manager) were invited to share some of their findings with the consultants involved with the finalization and validation of the Sri Lanka Rubber Industry Master Plan, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the City Cluster Economic Development Project.
The discussion, held at the rubber secretariat in Colombo, revolved around the creation and sustainability of farmer associations among rubber smallholders. The consultants were particularly interested in a successful rubber smallholder association in Pandeniya, Sri Lanka. The LIRNEasia researchers spoke about the factors that led to the success of the smallholder association in Pandeniya such as financial and technical assistance to set up their operations, ability maintain control of the quality of their rubber and above all the leadership and commitment exhibited by their members.
The researchers further spoke about the need to build and maintain trust among the members of a farmer association as well as the necessity to address free-rider problems to ensure quality standards. The discussion also focused on the way smallholders are currently integrated into the supply chains and the viability of group selling in the current set up.