Technology and innovation applied to two Srilankan traditional food chains: Spices and Rice

Sri Lanka, once known as Ceylon, is an island state located in the Indian Ocean and separated from Southern India by a sea strait known as Palk Straits.
The relations between Tamils and Sinhalese are still troubled following historical events which resulted in subjugation of Tamil culture by the Sinhalese one (in the 50s) causing high resentment among people belonging to the former. Reactions to such events always resulted in hard clashes between the two factions leading, besides many casualties and displaced people, to economic collapse notably in the tourist sector.
Though the primary resource of Sri Lanka is remittance by workers migrated to the Near East and Europe,the economy of the country is still based on agriculture; key crops include tea, rubber, coconuts and spices.
The project SRI BIZ, supported by funds granted under the call “Feed the Planet”, intends, on the one side, to support the income of small farmers in the districts of Ampara and Monaragala by developing processing and marketing channels for their spice and rice crops and, on the other side, to support the marketing and distribution of products obtained without using chemicals, by establishing PGS certification systems (Participatory Guarantee Systems) and ICS (Internal Control System) certification. This project shall also set the conditions for the introduction and large-scale marketing  of an organic biofertilizer developed though applied scientific research, resulting from collaboration between ICEI-Overseas and Srilankan academic scientists.

This project intends to ensure food security and reduce poverty among rural residents in the districts of Ampara (Eastern Province) and Moneragala (Province of UVA), improving production conditions and facilitating access to markets, in a perspective of environmental and economic sustainability.
In particular, it shall valorize two traditional agrofood chains of Srilankan economy: spices and rice, supporting the growth of several social businesses, to ensure income generation for grassroots organizations, according to eco-compatible standards.

  • 400 small farmers households producing spices, rice and rice seeds
  • 600 small spice farmers will deliver crops to the spice processing unit.
  • 5,000 rice farmers will be granted access to new biofertilizer technology
  • 15,000 people will be reached by sensibilisation campaigns designed ad hoc for local and niche markets, to foster the consumption of eco-sustainable products.
  • 5 Italian researchers involved in academic interchange on biofertilizer and 40 students and researchers will attend UniMi workshops on the biofertilizer
  • 60 students in 3 Italian schools will be involved in the educational campaign in Italy and 300 visitors will be involved in sensibilisation workshops at the EXPO site.
  • 700 people reached by the sensibilisation campaign
  • 3,600 secondary school students (aged 12-14), parents and teachers of 6 schools in the rural areas of Ampara and Monaragala

100,000 people reached by the multimedia communication campaign in Italy

Expected results

Developed production chains for two crops with high nutritional and commercial value (spices and rice of traditional varieties) among grassroots small farmers associations in the districts of Ampara and Moneragala. In addition, facilitated access to markets for social businesses and grassroots associations involved in the concerned production chains, promoting networking and differentiating market channels and opportunities to ensure economic sustainability.
The beneficiary populations, in Italy and locally, shall be sensibilized on conscious consumption and eco-sustainable production, also through technological innovation.

Follow the crowfunding campaign on and support ICEI Sri Lanka in the construction of a non-profit production unit for Green Agro biofertilizer.