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Nov 06, 2010 (LBO) – Cargills (Ceylon), which runs Sri Lanka’s biggest supermarket chain, has begun selling products of farmers in the former war zone in the northern Jaffna peninsula, officials said. The bank has given 105 million rupees in loans among over 3,000 micro-entrepreneurs, farmers and fishermen to restart their income generating activities in the peninsula after the end of the war. The joint ‘Yal Uthpaththi’ programme by the Food City supermarket chain with the Central Bank and state-run Bank of Ceylon aims to create markets for farmers from Jaffna who specialise in palmyrah-based products.

“We have already trained 1,000 farmers from Jaffna and have commenced direct purchasing,” said Imtiaz Wahid, managing director of Cargills.

The firm, part of the Ceylon Theatres group, has stepped up investments in the north and east following the end of the island’s 30-year ethnic war in May 2009 which has led to accelerating economic growth.

Products like traditional sweetmeats, palmyrah jaggery and baskets made of palmyrah will be sold in 20 Cargills Food City supermarkets islandwide.

The project comes under the central bank’s Poverty Alleviation Microfinance Project funded by the