Peppers from Ampara soon to be enjoyed by McDonalds and Heinz customers

Gherkins and peppers from Ampara soon to be enjoyed by McDonalds and Heinz customers in Europe, New Zealand and Japan

Colombo, September 22, 2008: Sri Lanka’s Hayleys Group and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have successfully completed a six month pilot project linking 160 farmers in conflict affected Eastern Province to global agricultural supply chains. Together, they have cultivated 20 acres of gherkins, 10 acres of jalapeno peppers, and 20 acres of pineapples, which will soon be appreciated globally by customers of McDonalds, Burger King, Unilever, Subway, Hungry Jack, Loteria, Sanyo and Heinz.

The Hayleys Group is the sole exporter of gherkins from Sri Lanka, processing more than 8,000 tons a year, which makes it the second largest exporter in Asia. Sri Lankan gherkins supply well-known international brands such as McDonalds, Burger King, Unilever and Heinz

The objective of the project has been to motivate farmers in poorer areas of Ampara and Moneragala to embrace modern agricultural practices and to empower them to improve their incomes substantially from agriculture by switching to cash crops that are in demand. Mr. Bandula, a farmer of Ruhunugama, Ampara made a Rs 22,000 net profit from cultivating 40 perches of gherkins for two months. “This is a great help for me and my family as it will help me settle some of my defaulted loans,” he said. Another farmer, Mr. Selvathurai from Central Camp was happy about the project as he received inputs on credit, was able to plant and knew he had a buyer for his produce.

USAID and Hayleys have enabled 160 farmers to produce new varieties which meet higher quality standards. Since the launch of the project in April 2008, these traditional paddy farming families have earned a substantial additional income. Their relationship with Hayleys provides a direct link between the producers and the buyers without having to utilize intermediaries. “Hayleys’ direct links to export markets offers tremendous opportunities for Sri Lankan farmers to make the transition from subsistence to commercial farming. I believe this partnership has demonstrated that we together can build a value chain that will bring sustainable economic growth to Eastern Sri Lanka,” USAID Mission Director Rebecca Cohn said at the closing ceremony for the pilot project.

The partnership with USAID has provided an incentive for Hayleys to expand its supply network in Ampara and Moneragala and develop a new relationship with farmers in the East. This has proven a win-win for both sides, and Hayleys will now replicate and expand this successful model. Mr. Anil Wickramanayake, Managing Director of Hayleys/Sunfrost, has told his partners that: “in view of the success of this pilot project, we are now planning to grow 500 acres of high value vegetables involving 2,000 farmer out-growers in Ampara and Moneragala districts to supply export markets covering 28 countries.”

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