The ‘Organic Food Production and Exports by SMEs in Sri Lanka’ conference was held on 23 August 2022, organized as part of the ‘Support to Small and Medium Enterprises in the Organic Agriculture Sector Programme’; the Multi-Donor Action (MDA) jointly co-financed by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
The conference was organised on behalf of the programme by the European Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (ECCSL) in partnership with the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka (AHK Sri Lanka). The main objective of the programme is to increase awareness about organic products from Sri Lanka within international markets, as well as improve business opportunities between potential European partners and Sri Lankan companies.
With the overarching event theme ‘Sourcing organic agriculture food products from Sri Lanka’, the high-level conference followed by B2B matchmaking opportunities attracted over 155 participants covering a diverse group of industry stakeholders reflecting distinct entry pathways into agriculture, such as SME traders, exporters, medium-scale farmers, and others involved with agri-food products.
Within the framework of the initiative, a virtual conference was organised on 23 August 2022 where European importers and retailers (including Rewe Far East Limited, Biokorntakt Vertriebs GmbH, and Herbaria Kräuterparadies GmbH from Germany, Tradin Organic Agriculture B.V. from Netherlands, Renee Voltaire from Sweden, JJM Group from Slovakia, and Greenest from Estonia) presented an overview to their companies and expressed their interest to source organic products such coconut-based products, tropical fruits, vegetables, and spice products among others from Sri Lanka.
The virtual conference took place in the presence of Country Director of GIZ Sri Lanka & Myanmar – Dr. Petra Mutlu, Charge d’Affaires, Delegation of the European Union – Thorsten Bargfrede, Chairman of Export Development Board – Suresh de Mel, and Chief Delegate of the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka (AHK Sri Lanka) – Marie Antonia von Schönburg and President of European Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (ECCSL) – Arnold Perera. Prof. Buddhi Marambe, Senior Professor in Agriculture, University of Peradeniya informed the participants about the progress and expectations of Sri Lankan Organic Agriculture standards.
In a panel discussion, four experts from international agencies and stakeholders from the Sri Lankan industry explored the various challenges and opportunities to increase organic agriculture exports from Sri Lanka to the European Market. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Simon Bell of AMBA Estate and included the insights of international agency representatives including Karst Kooistra (Sourcing Development Director – Tradin Organics), Linda Mense (Regional Expert – Import Promotion Desk in Sri Lanka), Dr. Chatura Rodrigo (Policy Advisor, GIZ SME Sector Development Programme in Sri Lanka) and Dammikka Sriwardhana (President & Founder, Design Logics). Finally, Mr. Roshan Ranawake, Managing Director at Control Union Sri Lanka emphasised the importance of obtaining the necessary certifications and standards when exporting to the European Union (EU) and discussed the processes required to obtain certification, highlighting the “group” certification available to multiple, small businesses.
To strengthen the economic and trade links between Sri Lankan SMEs and European importers of organic agriculture produce, specialised B2B matchmaking meetings with the European importers were organised for 30 Sri Lankan SMEs who qualified for the opportunity according to the criterion of European buyers such as the specific product portfolio, EU organic certified status, and other certifications and standards.