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Sri Lanka village producers helped by Japanese volunteers
05 Jan, 2012 12:19:18
Jan 05, 2012 (LBO) - A team of Japanese volunteers had helped village level producers to develop new products and upgrade designs to get higher prices, the Japan International Co-operation agency said.
Three volunteers had worked with the island's Samurdhi Authority, a poverty alleviation agency, to help families in several areas.

These volunteers had helped rural producers in several locations including Udunuwara, Yatinuwara, Pathadumbara, Pathahewaheta and Weligama.

Fumika Kikuchi, designer had guided traditional craftsmen to develop new products that appealed to high-end clients in Colombo and foreign tourists.

"This enabled producers to earn higher profit margins compared with profits made through products with traditional designs," JICA said.

Another volunteer Toshiharu Sato, a food processing specialist who worked in Weligama had helped producers develop a new king coconut (thembili) jelly which became popular amongst tourist .

Kentaro Takeda, who worked in Pathadumbara introduced a new design of cloth bag to some producers who were able to earn an additional income through the sale of these bags.

"The activities of JICA volunteers have helped rural producers develop new products, broaden their client base and increase their incomes," JICA said.

"Volunteers went through much hardship in convincing people that the new designs/products could be sold in places they could never imagine.

"This was largely due to their lack of exposure to urban or commercial environments that existed in places like Colombo or Kandy."

Volunteers had also taught producers to manage cash flows and keep to delivery schedules.

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