Sri Lankan firms diversify into unrelated agriculture to beat crisis
With core businesses struggling, Sri Lankan companies are finding their feet in unrelated areas.
For instance, a number of vehicle importers has gotten into agriculture or are enhancing their already successful agri-businesses established as far back as five years ago.
DIMO PLC is one such company. “We got into agriculture over five years ago and now we have expanded it. We bought some export companies producing fruits and vegetables to add to our portfolio. In addition, we also bought a coconut exporting company,” Ranjit Pandithage, Chairman CEO DIMO PLC told the Business Times. He said the company is doing organic exports and developing out-growers to help the nation, which is currently in crisis. “Agriculture is the future.”
Arthur Senanayake, Chairman IWS Holdings told the Business Times that agriculture has always interested the company. “Recently, we added 100 acres leased from Monaragala for paddy cultivation to the 20 acres of paddy we already had. We are interested in agricultural sustainable farming, and we use minimal chemical fertiliser.”
Industry officials said that Car Mart Co and United Motors are also looking at getting into the agriculture business.
SriLankan Airlines Catering is also looking to get into indoor agriculture. Officials said that they have a 300 acre property in Katunayake and the company is looking at growing mushrooms, salads, tomatoes, gherkins, lemons etc.
A medium sized construction company, which had an idle workforce during the past year as they did not get any projects, had also gotten into an agricultural project. “The government owns them about Rs. 800 million and they really did not have a choice other than to get into this business which is proving to be a lucrative one,” an industry source said.
Anton Godfrey, Executive Chairman, Agxa Global Incorporated, told the Business Times that the food security in the country is alarming and companies are seeing opportunities in this crisis. This is the main reason that they are refocusing their policies in tandem with the food security situation in the country.
Industry officials said that Cargills with the supermarket chain wants to get into indoor agriculture. Other supermarket chains are also actively looking at getting into this area.
What’s more, an architectural firm is also looking at getting into agriculture, eyeing paddy cultivation. Recently Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said the construction industry won’t have the pace of growth after the ethnic conflict ended in mid-2009, and this sector will slow down.
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