When MDF met Pasanka Exporters, the business was growing but not meeting its capacity. Pasanka processes certified-Organic (Control Union certification) local fruits such as mango, soursop, banana and pineapple for the export market. But Pasanka still needed to strengthen its mechanisms to meet the stringent quality standards required for exports. MDF then intervened, supporting the business to purchase some essential, high-end equipment. The basis of the partnership was a common ambition – connecting Pasanka products to export markets and tourists.
But there was more to be done. Pasanka was seeing huge demand for spices – many of which could only be grown in tropical climes like Sri Lanka – from international buyers. The key constraint was sourcing.
And so it was that MDF and Pasanka devised a working model that would not only provide the business with a steady, organic supply of spices but would also connect the producers of the Southern Province with a reliable buyer and the larger market.
THE SEEDS OF SUCCESS
Connecting the women to the market begins with Pasanka supplying them with the necessary seeds. The Extension Officer, Rishitha, recruited with MDF’s support visits the farms to advise the women on what to grow where and when, how to best prepare the dry soil of the South, and which post-harvest techniques result in minimum yield loss. Currently 20 women are part of the network, growing sturdy lemongrass, ginger and turmeric, which are mostly low-maintenance and grow throughout the year.
“When the children go to school, I like to spend time on the field. My husband helps me when he is at home, but I do most of the work,” Says Chandra Weeraratne, one of the women in a backyard farming network established by Pasanka (Pvt) Ltd, an MDF Sri Lanka partner.
Chandra used to grow a few crops for the house, but they would always be ravaged by monkeys, giant squirrels or porcupines. But her latest crop of lemongrass is a growing well, and she is now preparing the ground for ginger.
WHAT TOURISTS LIKE
The spices are partly exported and partly used for the essential oils and infused oils popular in the tourism industry. While essential oils are an old favourite, Pasanka is now diversifying its offering by infusing the organic virgin coconut oil it produces with the local spices. The resulting fragrant product is placed at hotel and tourist establishments in the area.
A portion of the local fruits are also preserved for tourists – the juicy pulp of mangoes and soursop make excellent fresh juices and fruit-based desserts.
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