Italy’s Noberasco to invest in Sri Lankan fruit, vegetable businesses
Sri Lankan fruit and vegetable businesses are set to boost exports following a new partnership with the dried fruits and nuts company Noberasco.
The Lanka Fruit and Vegetable Producers, Processors and Exporters Association (LFVPPEA) signed a memorandum of understanding with Italy-based Noberasco on 22 February.
The signing comes after nearly three years of engagement and visits between Italy and Sri Lanka, through a project funded by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and LFVPPEA. STDF is a global partnership that helps developing countries to better implement international sanitary and phytosanitary standards to improve their health status and ability to access markets.
‘Noberasco is proud of this collaboration with the producers of tropical fruits of Sri Lanka,’ said President Gabriele Noberasco, speaking on behalf of the Noberasco family. ‘By looking beyond one's own borders, one can learn and grow. The main objective of this agreement is to develop new opportunities for Sri Lankan farmers, supported by Noberasco’s firm intention to invest in training and resources to obtain products processed in Sri Lanka with rigorous quality control to guarantee customer satisfaction.’
LFVPPEA President Zuraish Hashim said: ‘Our vision is to have Sri Lankan fruit companies become the preferred supplier in the global market, and we as members need to take actions to make it happen. We call on exporters, producers, government bodies and development partners to address challenges and tap the full potential of the partnership with Noberasco for the benefit of all, from farmers to consumers.’
Ludovica Ghizzoni, ITC adviser on export quality management, said: ‘We have seen the fruit and vegetable sector growing under the leadership of LFVPPEA since 2013. The cooperation with Noberasco is the start of a journey to Europe not only for commercial opportunities but for sustainable and inclusive value chains where skills, knowledge, technology, health and people are at the heart of the partnership.’
The Italian embassy in Colombo welcomed the beginning of ‘a long and “fruitful” cooperation’ on its Facebook page, acknowledging ITC for its support.
Boosting food quality, safety
The goal of this partnership is to help Sri Lankan fruit and vegetable producers and exporters to comply with international food quality and safety requirements, enabling them to sell their products to Europe so they can do more business and earn higher incomes.
‘Fruit and vegetable products are a priority within the food and beverage sector, identified for its growth potential in the National Export Strategy, which was developed with ITC support,’ said Indira Malwatte, Chairperson and Chief Executive of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board. ‘Study tours taken to Italy under this project helped our businesses to identify niche markets for natural and organic dehydrated fruits. Sri Lanka’s fruit and vegetable industry has benefitted immensely from the project and the impact will trickle down to the farmer level across the country.’
A feasibility study conducted through this project explored opportunities for value addition. It found that the market for natural (sugar-free and no preservatives) and organic dried fruits and vegetables – especially pineapples and mangoes – is growing.
These findings and the 2019-2023 strategic plan for LFVPPEA was presented to stakeholders at Renuka Hotel in Colombo on 26 February. Forty stakeholders from the private and public sectors joined development partners, buyers and international experts to discuss the findings, explore opportunities to work together and address challenges.
Sri Lanka faces challenges in taking advantage of growth opportunities due to the limited availability of raw materials, high prices and difficulties adhering to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
‘By implementing the Sri Lanka GAP and increasing certification, Sri Lanka can expand exports of value-added goods,’ said Shanti Wilson, a post-harvest specialist and former additional director of research and development at the Industrial Technology Institute in Sri Lanka.