Supporting efforts to reform and revitalize Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector at the grassroots during these challenging times, private sector bank HNB PLC launched ‘HNB Saru Ge Watte’, a campaign aimed at establishing new marketplaces for rural farmers in urban areas while promoting home gardening in urban areas across the Central Province.
Launched in collaboration with provincial and district agricultural offices, the campaign was kick-started at the Kandy City Centre with the presence of Provincial Director General of Agriculture, S A De Silva as the Chief Guest, HNB Deputy General Manager- Legal (Board Secretary) leading the initiative Thushari Ranaweera, HNB DGM/Chief Credit Officer, Nirosh Perera, CBSL Manager (Matale), Chathura Ratnayake together with HNB Regional Business Head (Central), Harsha Wickremasinghe, HNB Kandy Customer Center, Senior Manager, Indika Ekanayake, KCC Chairman Thusitha Wijayasena, Divisional Secretaries, Wathsala Marambage and R M S M Rathnayake.
“With our nation facing its worst economic and food security crisis in history, it is imperative that all Sri Lankans work together to ensure we are able to produce enough to help tide us over during these trying times. We are proud to launch the HNB Saru Ge-watte initiative to provide our customers, the public and Sri Lankan farmers with the knowledge and partnerships necessary to utilize all available land to cultivate food, and contribute even in a small way towards mitigating the worst impacts of the coming crisis,” HNB Deputy General Manager- Legal (Board Secretary) Thushari Ranaweera said.
Given that farmers in non-banking rural segments have difficulty connecting to buyers in urban areas, HNB announced that it would work with its existing customer network to help disintermediate the agriculture sector by creating direct relationships between rural farmers and consumers across the island, in order to provide both sides respectively with a decent livelihood from their harvest, and a reasonable price for their essential needs.
Notably, the initiative also aims to promote home-gardening among residences in urban areas. The bank will facilitate seeds and fertiliser at discounted rates to residents to encourage farming in their gardens. Working in collaboration with the Agriculture Department and Divisional Secretariat, HNB has organised a series of capacity-building programmes to improve financial literacy and technical know-how for farmers at the Kandy City Centre.
“The Central province is a cornerstone of the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka. Over the past few years we at HNB have worked towards supporting farmers in the area through partnerships with our extensive portfolio of vendors. The ongoing crisis has only strengthened and fast-tracked this commitment to our farmers and we are delighted to note that organisations such as the Kandy City Center have stepped up to support us in this endeavor,” HNB Central Region Business Head, Harsha Wickremasinghe said.
Furthermore, the pilot project will be rolled out across the island with the support of local and provincial agricultural officers to support the general public during these difficult times.
Notably, officials from the Agriculture Department, Department of Animal Products, as well as several teams from the Agriculture Department including Seeds and Plants, Commercial Agriculture, the Agriculture Publication Unit, HNB Central Regional Officers and HNB Kandy Customer Center Officers also participated in the event.