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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Monday, December 31, 2007

Leading industrialist disgusted with Govt’s apathetic attitude

The Island: 31/12/2007" by Sunil C. Perera

A leading organic food manufacturer and exporter, Bio Foods [PVT] Ltd., complains a number of government agencies do not attend to solve entrepreneurs’ grievances to smooth their manufacturing processes.

At present the company maintains good growth and it is the only company which received the world’s first Fair Trade Registered Processor and Exporter of Organic Spices award and wants to be the best in its field in South East Asia.

The company produces value-added products in green and black tea, spices, herbs, curry powder, desiccated coconut, cashew, treacle, juggery and coconut oil. These products are exported to selected overseas buyers in Europe and Asia, paying a premium with part of it going to farmers and producers in the country for their social welfare.

Chairman and the Managing Director of the Bio Foods [PVT] Ltd., Eco Foods [PVT] Ltd. and Biodynamic [PVT] Ltd Dr. Sarath Ranaweera said that his company has made complaints to all responsible government authorities, but the authorities maintain a deafening silence to his complaints.

At present, the company suffers lack of infrastructure at its factory located in Seethavalley Estate, Nillabe, in the Central Province. The other companies manufacture value added organic teas, spices and herbs for the export market, mainly to European countries. The Chairman said his plan was to earn Rs. 500 millions as turnover. These projects daily generate additional employment to a large number of people in the area and also a large number of small farmers in the district will be greatly benefited.

"Our manufacturing plants and the processing units are located in this estate (Seethavalley) and the lack of telecommunication facilities, motorable roads, proper commuter services and other basic infrastructure," he said.

The company has made written complaints to the Ministry of Industrial Development, the BOI, Sri Lanka Telecom, Regional Transport Board and also made frequent verbal complaints to the area ministers and the top level government officials.

"So far we have only received only written responses from those ministries, but our requests are still on hold and the company has to face obstacles, despite which the company exports large stocks of organic food products," he said with an air of resignation.

"We took our problems to Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, but sad to say, the problems have worsened and production will be affected in the long run," he woefully lamented.

According to the BOI, it involves itself with industrialists’ problems to find positive solutions. However, that does not seem to be so with this company, as far as I can see.

Bio Foods’ James Valley Organic Tea Factory was recently awarded the one star rating of the Ceylon Quality Certificate under the Quality Management System of the Sri Lanka Tea Board. Value addition at Bio Foods is 90 per cent with raw materials coming from nearby fields while Rs 2.3 million is spent annually on international certification.

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