The National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary Industries organized a seminar on 5th of July at the Galadhari Hotel, Colombo to discuss the ways to become “Export Giants Through Modernization”. The seminar comprised of more than 30 leading exporters of export agriculture crops, fruits and vegetables.
An Expert panel was set up to have an interactive session. The expert panel consisted of the Honorable Daya Gamage, Minister of Primary Industries, Eng. Bandula Wickramarachci the secretary to the Ministry of Primary Industries, Mr. Sarada De Silva, president of the National Chamber of Exporters and Dr. Chatura Rodrigo, Senior Research Manager, LIRNEasia.
The Minister gave the welcome speech highlighting the importance of modernization in export value chains. The importance of value addition, involvement of the private sector and the small holder was stressed. The current earnings from exports to the country are reported at 11 billion Rupees and the ministry is geared towards achieving 30 billion Rupees by the end of 2020.
Eng Bandula Wickramarachci explained the action plan of the ministry in order to achieve the overall objectives of the Ministry. The ministry recently received a conformation form the World Bank on an international Development Assistance (IDA) of 125 Million USD. This money is to be spent on agricultural modernization and the project will be implemented in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture. The secretary explained in detail on how the IDA loan would be spent to achieve ministry’s objectives. The ministry will spent the money on a “Matching Grant Project”. Through a competitive process the ministry will select a set of entrepreneurs for the project. The project will fund 50% of the investment requirement. Applications have already been called. The main selection criteria are (1) involvement of the business in the export value chain and (2) promotion of a value added product.
Dr. Chatura Rodrigo, Senior Research Manahger, LIRNEasia, delivered the guest lecture of the seminar. The objective of the lecture was to highlight the different modalities of engaging smallholder in to modernize export value chains. Chatura explained the drawbacks of the traditional subsidy based export value chains and proposed innovative approaches, namely contract agreements (out-grower model) and cooperatives. The lecture went in to detail to discuss possible value chain innovations such as the role of ICTs in value chain development.