• Wed. Jul 10th, 2024

Sri Lanka Agripreneurs’ Forum holds the second AGM after serving the country’s crisis-hit agricultural sector as a professional agri-entrepreneurial organization

As the country’s agriculture sector starts to recover, Sri Lanka Agripreneurs’ Forum (SLAF) held its 2nd Annual General Meeting on 31st August 2022 at the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka, Colombo 07 playing its role through interventions in policy-making to the capacity building programs to revive the sector.

The event was attended by key stakeholders representing various sectors including growers, farmer
organizations, agri value-addition enterprises, agri professionals and academics, local and global
marketers of agri produce, agri-input providers, local agri investors, banking institutions, large-scale
retailers, and business incubators among many others.

Agripreneurship which refers to agricultural entrepreneurship is a sector that encompasses both
agricultural and farming-related business activities. Agripreneurship is a model that covers all phases of
bringing an agricultural product to market, including production, processing, and distribution. An
agripreneur must evaluate and enhance every aspect of producing an agricultural product.
Therefore, the main goal of the SLAF is to make agriculture a prosperous and viable activity in order to
maintain food security and to elevate small-scale farmers from their existing status as subsistence-level
farmers to respected and significant contributors to the agricultural economy.

With a membership base of over 300 direct members and an extended membership that encompasses
the 30 million individuals who are involved in agriculture, both directly and indirectly, SLAF has
continuously engaged with all key stakeholders, including the highest echelons of government, to push
for the speedy transformation of agriculture.

“SLAF, despite facing multiple challenges since its inception, has managed to truly serve the nation as a
professional agri-entrepreneurial organization. The contributions SLAF made to uplift the
agri-entrepreneurial community from various interventions in policy-making to the capacity-building
programs conducted have managed to bring SLAF and the community it represents to greater heights.”
commented SLAF Chairman Rizvi Zaheed.

He also highlighted the activities conducted by the SLAF during the previous tenure. Some of the activities are listed below;

● Launched the Certificate in Agri-Business & Entrepreneurship (CABE) program under “Agri
Saviya” in partnership with the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM). This was a
first-of-its-kind qualification available in Sri Lanka to build an elemental force in the country to
bridge the knowledge gap in the agriculture sector.

● Launched the SLAF Agri Forum WhatsApp Group with over 300 participants to facilitate more
interactive communication between the members of SLAF
. This communication hub, which
serves as a prototype for the bigger objective of the SLAF to enable faster and more efficient
communication between the stakeholders in the agri-sector has seen massive success over the
years in connecting growers, buyers, and sellers.

● Conducted the Special Private Sector Dialogue on the draft National Agri Policy (NAP) and
supported the drafting of NAP.
The SLAF conducted the Special Private Sector Dialogue to discuss the drafting of the NAP and subsequently submitted a proposal for the draft NAP based
on the comments and proposals that were collected from multiple stakeholders representing
various segments of the sector.

● Conducted a discussion with the European Union Chamber on the EU 2021/27 project on the
sustainable value chain and organic agri-sector development.
Key representatives of SLAF met
with the EU Chamber to discuss possible mechanisms to develop value chains and organic
agri-sector that would assist the EU 2021/27 project. This meeting brought up the key issues
faced by the sector in the status quo and explored possible ways of overcoming them and how
the EU could support that.

● Supported the Inaguration of the Lanka Coffee Association along with Market Development
Facility (MDF. Lanka Coffee Association, Sri Lanka’s first-ever national coffee association, was
launched with the intention of improving the coffee sector of the country by elevating the
quality and quantity of the coffee that is being exported from Sri Lanka. Subsequent to its
creation, the SLAF has also been staffing the association’s secretariat and LCA has since
conducted multiple activities such as a series of Coffee Training workshops and a Coffee Festival
which aims to boost the image of Sri Lankan Coffee.

● Launched the Jack Fruit Value Chain Development Project. SLAF appointed a subcommittee that
was tasked with developing the Jack-fruit value chain in Sri Lanka and the subcommittee has
completed the preliminary stages of the project where they have identified the best variety to be
cultivated and have conducted many knowledge-sharing workshops to raise awareness of the

● Initiated the framework to set up the Agro Innovation Center (AIC) in partnership with Hatch.
AIC aims to create Agribusiness entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka by establishing a fully-fledged
agro-processing and innovation center in the Colombo District and four semi or
partial-processing centers in Anuradhapura, Jaffna, Nuwara Eliya, and Monaragala Districts,
totaling to five centres as Phase 1 of the project.

● Initiated the Sri Lanka – Kenya Hass Avocado Project. A series of business discussions between
Sri Lanka nominated SLAF and the Kenyan Team of experts to improve the Avocado Value Chain
in Sri Lanka with special emphasis on the HASS avocado variety. The purpose of the assignment
is to develop a project for Hass Avocado and upscale the project to a large-scale farm of
estimated 100 acres of land in Kandy.

● Conducted a range of training webinars over a wide spectrum of areas to educate the Sri
Lankan agripreneurs.

Webinar on Insights on new regulations on organic and inorganic agri-inputs. The session successfully took place on September 2021 with the participation of over 140
participants from the Sri Lankan agricultural sector. This timely discussion brought clarity

on areas such as; the current status of the policy changes instigated since April 2021,
national perceptions of the change to the agrochemical importation policy in the short,
medium, and long terms, effective use of chemical fertilizer, and plant nutrient
management, export market opportunities for organic products. An interactive industry
discussion shed light on many of the grey areas of the current situation and created a
platform to discuss avenues for an ambitious transformation to an organic agricultural
system for Sri Lanka.

Webinar on vanilla value chain development – This webinar, which was held in
December 2020, focused on the business opportunities in the vanilla value chain. Areas

● Published write-ups on reputed media networks in Sri Lanka to bring attention to key issues in
a timely manner

– Importation of contaminated organic fertilizer – September 2021
This highlighted the grave concerns surrounding the contaminated samples of imported
organic fertilizer and a reality check on the government’s decision to progress towards
placing a commercial order of the same fertilizer

– Concerns of the agripreneurial community – April 2022
A restatement of concerns that affect the agripreneurial community with a summary of
industry-necessitated, timely solutions. It was featured in multiple newspapers and also
on Sirasa and Hiru TV News.

– Recommendations for urgent action from the agripreneurial community – June 2022
The Press Release contained recommendations from the agripreneurial community
which were collated by the SLAF from the multiple submissions it received. It highlighted
immediate solutions to the impending food shortage out of which multiple discussions
with the relevant government agencies were initiated.

Partnered with key players contributing to the agri-sector in Sri Lanka to work in unison to
achieve mutual objectives.

-Partnership with Keells
This partnership explored how Keells could contribute to the upliftment of the
agri-sector using its already established logistics systems and its network of branches.

– Partnership with Hatch
SLAF initiated a partnership with Hatch to develop agri-startups in the country and to
improve entrepreneurship in the sector.

– Partnership with HNB
SLAF partnered with HNB to conduct multiple capacity-building programs for the
agripreneurial sector and to explore mechanisms in which the banking sector could get
involved in better supporting those who are engaged in agriculture.

-Partnership with National Science FoundationSLAF partnered with NSF in order to make information and data regarding the sector
more widely available to our membership and the wider entrepreneurial community.

● Set up the SLAF Secretariat Office

-The SLAF set up its secretariat at the Y-Hub of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in
February 2021.
– The SLAF shifted its secretariat to Hatch Works in April 2022.

● Launched the SLAF Website and Social Media pages (Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram)
-This enabled the SLAF to publish the success stories of our membership and to upload
any important updates to the larger global audience with ease. Thus further improving
connectivity which the SLAF aspires to do.

The Executive Council of SLAF comprises of Rizvi Zaheed, Chairman; Dr. Selvanathan Anojan, .
Secretary; Kulendran Sivaram, Treasurer; Aruna Weerakoon, Athula Gunarathne, Chandana Deepal, Jayantha Rajapakse, Jeevan Gnanam, Kailash Sithambaram, Kalpana Kandage,Nimmi Galearachchi, and Parakrama Jayasinghe as the Executive Council Members for the year 2022/23
Through its individual, corporate, institutional, and student membership (student membership is offered
free-of-charge) categories, SLAF hopes to better connect all stakeholders to the national agri-output to
improve coordination, awareness, and lobbying power of the industry with the intention of working
towards the development of the national agri sector.

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