Bridging the gap between a university education and the demands of the labor market – The Island

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Need to obtain necessary certifications emphasized

The conference “Organic Food Production and Exports by SMEs in Sri Lanka” was held on August 23, 2022, organized under the program “Support to Small and Medium Enterprises in Organic Agriculture”; the Multi-Donor Action (MDA) jointly co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

The conference was organized on behalf of the program by the European Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (ECCSL) in partnership with the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka (AHK Sri Lanka). The main objective of the program is to increase awareness of Sri Lankan organic products in international markets, as well as to improve business opportunities between potential European partners and Sri Lankan companies.

With the overall theme of the event “Sourcing Organically Grown Food Products from Sri Lanka”, the high profile conference followed by B2B matchmaking opportunities attracted over 155 attendees spanning a diverse group of industry players reflecting distinct entry routes into agriculture, such as SME traders, exporters, medium-sized farmers and others involved in agribusiness.

As part of the initiative, a virtual conference was organized on August 23, 2022 where European importers and retailers (including Rewe Far East Limited, Biokorntakt Vertriebs GmbH and Herbaria Kräuterparadies GmbH from Germany, Tradin Organic Agriculture BV from the Netherlands , Renee Voltaire from Sweden, JJM Group from Slovakia and Greenest from Estonia) presented an overview of their businesses and expressed their interest in sourcing organic products such as coconut products, tropical fruits, vegetables and spices, among others, from Sri Lanka.

The virtual conference was attended by the Country Director of GIZ Sri Lanka and Myanmar – Dr. Petra Mutlu, Chargé d’Affaires, European Union Delegation – Thorsten Bargfrede, Chairman of the Export Development Board – Suresh de Mel, and Head of Delegation of the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka (AHK Sri Lanka) – Marie Antonia von Schönburg and President of the European Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (ECCCL) – Arnold Perera. Professor Buddhi Marambe, Senior Professor of Agriculture at the University of Peradeniya briefed the participants on the progress and expectations of Sri Lankan standards for organic agriculture.

During a panel discussion, four experts from international agencies and Sri Lankan industry stakeholders explored the various challenges and opportunities for increasing organic agriculture exports from Sri Lanka to the European market. The discussion was moderated by Simon Bell of AMBA Estate and included insights from international agency representatives including Karst Kooistra (Supply Development Manager – Tradin Organics), Linda Mense (Regional Expert – Import Promotion Office in Sri Lanka), Dr. Chatura Rodrigo (Policy Advisor, GIZ SME Sector Development Program in Sri Lanka) and Dammikka Sriwardhana (President and Founder, Design Logics). Finally, Roshan Ranawake, Managing Director of Control Union Sri Lanka, stressed the importance of obtaining the necessary certifications.

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