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The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has extended financial and technical support to 532 tea growers attached to four tea societies in Bandarawela and Deniyaya under the latest Dirishakthi Value Chain Development Programme.
Designed to improve the efficiency and sustainability of rural value chains, this recent initiative was focused on introducing novel technological developments that are conducive to increasing the efficiency and productivity of the tea industry in these regions and driving financial inclusion among smallholder farmers to encourage their entrepreneurial spirit, the Bank said.
Furthermore, the Bank’s Bandarawela and Deniyaya branches along with their corresponding Agriculture and Micro Finance Units (AMFU) and the Bank’s Development Credit Department (DCD) donated four earth drilling machines to selected tea grower’s societies in these regions.
Among the recipients of this equipment is the PARCIC Organic Tea society in Deniyaya. Members of PARCIC grow tea plants with organic fertilisers manufactured by the Society. Subsequently, the green leaf harvest is supplied to the Ahinsa Tea Factory in Morawaka owned by Professor Piyasena Abeygunawardena, a pioneer in the local organic tea industry.
Addressing the audience at the presentation ceremony held at the Kiriweldola Temple in Deniyaya, Commercial Bank’s Senior Manager – Development Credit Department, Mr Malika De Silva highlighted the products and services offered by the Bank for the financial inclusion of unbanked and underbanked communities in rural and semi-urban areas, and emphasised that the Bank is ready to extend its support to tea societies all over the country. The event was also attended by Mr Harshana Liyanagunawardene, the Manager of the Bank's Deniyaya branch, Bank officials and office bearers of the society.
The Bank’s Dirishakthi Value Chain Development Programme has also previously benefitted traditional rice producers and farmers in Kokkadichcholai, Batticaloa, the dairy value chain of the Mullaitivu Livestock Breeders Cooperative Society, and a group of dairy farmers in Mulliyawalai.
Commercial Bank`s Assistant General Manager SME Banking, Mr S Ganeshan commented that Bank’s Dirishakthi Value Chain Development Programme was launched to support microentrepreneurs with a holistic intervention encompassing financing and empowerment activities that benefit not just individual borrowers but all participants in their value chains to drive success and growth from the grassroot level. Its In-Kind Grants initiative was introduced to support the identified value chains to improve their efficiency and sustainability while overcoming the challenges faced by rural value chains.
Under this programme the Bank identifies all participants in a value chain with the assistance of existing customers or Community-Based Organisations (CBOs), provides financial services by reaching vulnerable players in the community such as women entrepreneurs and low-income individuals via coordinators of its Agriculture and Micro Finance Units who approach these members to provide personalised support. They identify obstacles that hinder the efficiency of the value chain and solve cash flow and capacity issues, provide fund transfer facilities to remit sales proceeds and to pay suppliers through the formal banking sector, and improve technical knowledge and entrepreneurship skills of value chain members with the objective of improving the quality of the products and services they offer.
Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 11 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches and 938 automated machines in Sri Lanka. Commercial Bank is the largest lender to Sri Lanka’s SME sector and is a leader in digital innovation in the country’s Banking sector. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the Bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.