Empowerment and Inclusivity: Key ingredients for MA’s Foods’ northern debut with USAID VEGA/BIZ+

Colombo, Sri Lanka: As part of its 30-year anniversary activities, MA’s Tropical Food Processing broke ground on a 25-acre, self-sustaining food processing facility in Iyakkachchi, Kilinochchi. The company’s debut in the Northern Province has been facilitated through a partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-supported VEGA/BIZ+ investment program, and reflects MA’s continuous commitment to ‘go beyond’ by fostering economic growth, and empowering the communities it engages with.    

“This project gives back to people in the community and promotes inclusive economic growth in the local economy,” explained Mario De Alwis, Chairman, NLFF and Managing Director, MA’s Tropical Food. “Many youth from farming communities sacrificed their lives to bring peace. Now it is our turn to foster and sustain national harmony.”

The company is particularly concerned with providing employment to vulnerable members of the community such as war widows and ex-child combatants, thereby building strong and sustainable partnerships.

MA’s subsidiary North Lanka Family Foods (NLFF) will operate the facility, which will be Sri Lanka’s first food processing enterprise with a “sustainable circular economic business model”: boosting  the economy without creating waste. Not only will the use of all outputs to enrich the supply chain be planned, but every component is also being designed to leave a minimal environmental footprint.

In addition to a food processing center, the complex will house a model organic farm, as well as residential training and conference facilities. Local farmers will benefit financially by having direct links to community collection centers, managed by local entrepreneurs and MA’s financial partners.

“As a policy we prefer to station our factories close to farming communities, this helps MA’s get the better quality produce and offers employment for young people and others in rural areas” added Mr. De Alwis. “We hope to assist local communities to resurrect disrupted value chains, improving their livelihoods and reintegrating with the rest of the country. We also hope to provide training facilities for youth from farming communities, and facilitate organic agriculture.”

MA’s Tropical Food Processing (Pvt.) Ltd. has been a leading food manufacturer in Sri Lanka for over 25 years. It is a producer and marketer of quality food ingredients and condiments for retail consumers in Sri Lanka, as well as to larger corporate and export-oriented customers in the food industry. The corporation is based in Colombo with factories in Dambulla and Minuwangoda.

BIZ+ is a USAID-funded economic growth program that seeks to create jobs and increase household incomes by providing small and medium-sized enterprises in economically-lagging regions with financial, technical, and managerial assistance. Since 2011, the BIZ+ program has committed LKR 1,420 million ($9,8 million) to support businesses in hospitality, agriculture and coir, apparel and textiles, automobile services, handicraft, and food processing sectors.

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