UNDP joins hands with the private sector to help resettled communities expand businesses in North and East

30 Jul 2009

UNDP Sri Lanka has joined hands with three major business conglomerates in the country to take forward the early recovery process in the East and Jaffna. Ceylon Biscuits, Keels and Hayleys met with UNDP early this month and travelled to the UNDP field offices to decide on ways of forging an effective partnership that will support resettled communities through systematic purchase of the agricultural products they produce.

An important challenge, for UNDP, in developing sustainable livelihoods for communities has been the creation of links with the market. Markets need an assured supply of quality products in sufficient quantity and communities, in turn, need to have access to an assured market they can sell their finished products to. The partnership between UNDP and the private sector will try and bridge this gap between the demand and supply side or, in other words, the communities and the market. This will ensure that livelihood initiatives for the resettled communities are sustainable. UNDP will support communities by providing technological and agricultural inputs so that communities are able to generate products that meet market quality standards. The private sector, on their part, will ensure that the products generated by the communities have an assured market so that communities will have a guaranteed market at a pre-agreed price. The companies will also provide technical assistance and processing facilities, if required.

Mr. Ruwanpathirana, CEO Special Projects Ceylon Biscuits Limited, said that the company was genuinely interested in supporting the farmer community. “We are willing to buy the produce over and above the guaranteed price if the market rate happens to be higher”.

UNDP Country Director, Mr. Douglas Keh described the partnership as an example of innovative Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). He said, “Companies can and should use CSR funds strategically to compensate for possible delayed profits or other business risks associated with going into new markets”.

The initiative will initially be launched in the districts of Batticaloa, Ampara, Trincomalee and Jaffna and will focus on products like cashew, beans, cowpea and fish.