Induction Programme for Community Based Tourism Development Piloting in the Northern Province

A well-planned and focused intervention which will yield durable results beyond the project’s life

04th – 19th December 2020

NORTHERN PROVINCE, SRI LANKA

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Re-igniting the hopes of Northern Tourism in 2021

A revenue of 3,500 USD Million earned from tourism by serving 1.9 Million tourists in 2019 has almost become zero from the destructive Covid 19 pandemic in Sri Lanka from February 2020. Thousands of people directly and indirectly depended on Tourism Business were pulled down into a hard position stressing them financially as well as psychologically. Study on the impact of COVID-19 outbreak for the organizational sustainability of MSMEs in Tourism – Northern Province conducted by EFECS in June 2020 revealed that 44% of the northern tourism SMEs had ongoing loan repayments taken during last 12 months by that time. 40% of the MSMEs requested financial assistance to start up a new business particularly to purchasing machinery, raw materials with working capital. 44% of the SMEs requested In-kind Assistance in the form of a giveaway the goods that are related to the sanitary and cleaning equipment required to reopen their businesses. Northern Tourism was capable in providing them the immediate pandemic guidelines training and the required materials and equipment with the financial assistance of Global Affairs of Canada.

Simultaneously, the survey recommended to promote Domestic Tourism until the world travel is back. Accordingly, Northern Tourism launched a destination marketing programme and awaiting to have a public presentation in March 2021 onwards. Survey further recommended the requirement of diversifying their businesses into new ventures to find income to pay their loans / leases while finding the best ways to cut costs to save the income. Training existing employees into new businesses to use them into the new ventures to multiply the revenue generation sources as required. In order to re-start the growth of Northern Tourism while streamlining the local industries, a well-planned pilot programme was developed by the EFECS Project under the guidance of Northern Province Tourism Bureau and Department of Cooperative Development in Northern Province. The objective of this programme is to introduce alternative income generation sources and promoting Northern Tourism among the Sri Lankan Travelers. Accordingly, a series of Induction Programmes explaining the upcoming the Capacity Building and Market Connectivity Programme to be commenced in 2021 was delivered to 133 Growth Oriented SMEs lined up under the sectors of Palmyra Handicrafts, Fisheries, Agriculture, Clothing, Cashew and agritourism and Cultural Dancing. These activities were ultimately supported by the 05 Village Based Tourism Strategies developed by EFECS Project in consultation with University of Moratuwa in 2019/20 for all districts in Northern Province. Village based Strategies for 05 Districts were developed with the participation of 281 MSMEs as well as the 159 Cooperative Community Members in North.

Mr. Stanley Mascarenes, Chairman of the Northern Province Tourism Bureau stated that the pilot project will be backed by the Northern Province Tourism Bureau to push the value chain concept further after the project. He mentioned that inter institutional collaboration of NPTB and NPDCD would add value for this initiative. Commissioner, Cooperative Department explained the importance of getting connected with the value chain as well as the methodology of establishing the Northern Province Tourism Coop. He extended his fullest cooperation towards the implementation of the programs with the assistance of five Assistant Cooperative Commissioners responding to the detailed presentation conducted by Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer (Tourism) of EFECS in collaboration with Northern Province Tourism Bureau Project at the Monthly Assistant Cooperative Commissioner’s Meeting held on 17th December 2020. Travelers to Sri Lanka will have limitations to travel overseas for leisure in 2021 due to travel bans, sanitary constraints, and shortages in financial budgets. EFECS identified many potential tourism attractions in northern province. Domestic travelers (Local travelers) will have a great opportunity to travel in northern within a limited budget.

Promoting northern palmyra handicrafts for tourism………

Handicraft sector is directly connected with the Tourism Value Chain under the amenity cluster whereas the tourists are awaiting to buy souvenirs native to the area they travel. Northern is comprised with thousands of magical palmyra resources that provide the raw materials to wonderful line of handmade souvenirs, wearables, and nature friendly packaging. Understanding the needs of the sector, a pilot programme was designed with a comprehensive capacity building programme as well as a market linkage programme. Induction was given to 130 nos of community members engaged in Palmyra Handicrafts in Kilinochchi, Vavuniya and Mannar Districts of the Northern Province. Accordingly, 16 days programme is designed to streamline the sector including Business Planning, Quality Manufacturing, Color & Design, Value Addition and Marketing. The programme is included with an Exposure Visit as well as a market Linkage programme with Tourism Hotels / Shopping Malls.

Naanattam Musali Plant Cooperative Society and Pudukkamam Natural Palmyra Leaf Handicraft Society from Mannar District, Kilinochchi Palm Resource Development Society and Paleyi Palm Resource Development Cooperative Society from Kilinochchi District and Attal Arasi Women Society and Nadunkerny Palm Resource Development Coop Society from Vavuniya District were selected and inducted by EFECS and Northern Province Tourism Bureau. Palmyra Development Board is in collaboration with Northern Province Tourism Bureau to improve the capacities of the sector. Induction Programme on Palmyra Handicraft MSME Development Programme for the Kilinochchi Palm Development Cooperative Society, A9, Karadiphokku Junction, Killinochi, Northern Province was successfully held on 15th December 2020.

The meeting was held in the society board room with the participation of society members those who are currently engaged in palmyra based product manufacturing. Although most of them do not given proper trainings they have become skilled by their generation. Majority are making Mats, Food Processing Equipment (String Hopers molds…etc.). They are currently facing lots of issues in the market as they are limited to very few products those are not regularly moving.

Mr. S.Thuraisingam, General Manager, expressing his ideas at the vote of thanks expressed that the members are suffering due to the unavailability of sales due to poor market connectivity. Marketing issues are there, and many people are capable in making products using the palmyra trunk. Northern Province Tourism Bureau made an extended vote of thanks at the forum.

  The induction programme for the Mannar West Palm Resources Development Co-op Society was successfully conducted with the presence of Mr. Stanley Mascarenes, Chairman, Northern Province Tourism Bureau on 12th December 2020.

The selected Handicraft makers in the society was provided with a detailed presentation on the expected project activities.

Compared with the other societies making palmyra handicrafts, this society is manufacturing considerably higher quality products with the recent training provided for them.

“I’m manufacturing Palmyra Dustbins, Bags, Food Packages, Jewelry Boxes, Stitching Boxes, Hand Bags. etc. in 2011, UNDP offered me a 6-month training programme and also the Education Department did 3 months training. Before Covid – 19 I was supplying my products to good market in Colombo, Madu Church Shop Mannar and Katpaham Shop Mannar.

Nucleous NGO and National Craft Council also assisted us donating a fungal treatment box in 2016. Yet, we are struggling with the prices. Very nominal amount we receive from a product. If you could connect us with a market where we can sell our products at a fair price making a justice for our skilled time of us, we are really thankful” mentioned Ms. Stella sharing her experience at the session.

There are around 20 members in this society. Before Covid 19 the members have earned 5,000/- – 15,000/- profit per month. But now, they are struggling with a large quantity of nonmoving stock. In 2011, this society has supplied tableware for a Mannar Large Scale Hotel, Palmyra House and it has been interrupted later.

The society needs more knowledge on new product development, and they are waiting to understand the new opportunities that are possible to earn more revenue. Additionally, the society requested to obtain a language training Sinhala and English as they face lots of challenges in the market due to language issue. Although the modern customer request to see the products online using WhatsApp and Viber, only 04 members are having smart phones.

However, this programme will be immensely supported towards their growth with future tourism. Later, an inspection visit was conducted for the Handicraft Shop maintained by the society.

The induction Programme on Palmyra Handicraft Development coinciding with the tourism industry was successfully delivered to Palmyra Handicrafts for Natura Handicraft Women Society on 12th December 2020. This society is registered under the National Craft Council. “We make Dustbins, Bags, Table Mats, Laundry Baskets, Bottle Cases, Hats and Necklaces. Academy of Design used to train us and take our products before Covid 19 comes. Those days we earned around Rs. 15,000/- per month” said Ms. Asunda, member of the society.

In 2010, Academy of Design has delivered 01-month training on coloring and designs for selected 16 members of this society based on a buy back agreement. But the products have been purchased at a very low rates and sold at a higher price to the end user.  

Other common issue they face is the Fungal Attacks. Prevailing Fungal Treatment Box is provided by Nucleolus NGO, but that is not enough for a larger quantity of goods. Society does not have a proper shelter for the coloring treatment during the rainy days. Therefore, they used to bring the products to houses with large space to get the coloring done.

They have never had any experiences in manufacturing products for the tourists, but they have supplier tissue boxes and other amenities required for the hotels. The society is ready to expand their capacities using the capacity building programme and relate to the markets.

Members of Nadinkerny Palmyra Cooperative Society those who manufacture Palmyra Handicrafts was given a complete induction on the upcoming programme on 8th December 2020 by the EFECS Project under the supervision of Northern Province Tourism Bureau.  

A field visit for their existing factory manufacture palmyra food products was conducted after the programme. 

Induction Program on Palmyra Handicraft Development Programme was successfully conducted for the Attral Arasi women society in Vavuniya on 09th December 2020 with the presence of Chairman, Northern Tourism Bureau.

Accordingly, the members were educated about the findings of the projects on possible challenges and the way to overcome those. As a strategy, a capacity development programme is being introduced.

After the programme, the project team presented the new product development done by the project combining with the Mullaitivu Hand Loom Products and Vavuniya Packaging under the Real North branding. This package was developed based on the request of the project from Attral Arasi Women Society as a new product development.

Effective market connections are in line with these types of new products in future. The capacity development progrmme will add a different color and an exclusivity for the existing product lines stated by the Value Chain Officer.

Palmyra Industry has been recognized as one of the leading industries in the tourism value chain which can add value for the tourists. With the objective of developing the industry for tourism, project developed a pilot programme for the palmyra handicraft cooperative societies. In order to capacitate the programme, project conducted a detailed presentation for the senior officials in Palmyra Development Board on 11th December 2020.

The forum discussed about the quality issues of the prevailing context such as fungal issues, designing…etc. Palmyra Development Board expressed their interest to develop the capacities of the selected societies in these areas. Currently the Palmyra Development Board has a three-month training curriculum covering all aspects mentioned in the presentation.

Prioritizing Sri Lankan Handlooms and Power looms with the participation of Tailors for Tourism….

Northern Province has a unique verity of clothing from the ancient times. Number of Handlooms and Power looms were destoyed by the civil war and later the government started re-building them for the economic development of the region. Yet, the products were facing lots of challenges with designs, quality developments in order to compete with the imported products. Although it is a wonderful tool to attract tourists, the industry was not merely recognized as a part of the tourism industry. Understanding the requirement, said pilot programme focuses on the development of Power loom and Handloom workers as well as the tailors. 79 viewers and tailers were recognized from selected four societies in Jaffna, Mullaitive and Vavuniya.  Katavinayagar Handloom Cooperative and Pandinkulam Textile Cooperative Society from Mullaitive, Kovilkulam Women TCCS comprised with tailouring professionals in Vavuniya and viewers in Yalpanam Textile Cooperative Society of Jaffna were the recognized societies. The programme will be consisted with important sessions; Business Planning, Coloring, Tailoring, Fashion Design, Marketing, followed by an exposure visit and Market Linkage with Tourism Hotels / Shopping Malls.

Induction Programme for Jaffna district Weaver’s cooperative society (20 members), Kondawil was successfully conduced in Jaffna on 11th December 2020 with the presence of Chairman, Northern Province Tourism Bureau.

Value Chain Officer, Tourism conducted a brief introduction about the progrmme and the objectives of the pilot programme for the members of the society. 20 members for the society including the board of directors attended the progrsmme.

“We have a 40-year-old brand. 8 viewers, 5 packing employees and we have 02 tailors with 03 technical officers and 02 administration officers. We have basic sawing machines and do not have any embroidery or high-end technology to improve the quality. But we used to continuously supply for hospital clothing requirements. Improving capacity in a methodical way as presented by the Value Chain Officer is an essential requirement for the society to improve.” Mentioned Mr. Raghawan, President of the Society.

Field visit in the factory also conducted after the induction programme. 16 machines were found in the running condition and one women viewer used to handle 04 machines at the same time.

“Prevailing working capital issues as well as the market connectivity issue are the basic hindering factors for the growth. The society is running under a loss for the past 03 years’ time. So this will definitely a good opportunity for the society to grow further voiced, Mr. Raghawan, President of the society.

Upcoming Capacity Development Programme to improve the skills of the tailors in Kovilkulam Women TCCS in order to produce good quality tourism-based product line was successfully held on 9th December 2020. The society comprised with lots of Tailouring women those who are engaged individually.

“I have rented out a shop and daily receiving around 5 – 10 customers. I manage my shop with 02 people and make blouses, tops only ladies’ garments. I make only for orders but has the capacity to produce more. The issue we face is we don’t have machinery for the finishing such as embroidery and button cover machines. I have not received any trainings and I learnt everything from my sister” said Ms. S. Sasimala speaking at the forum.

There are lots of members making the products at home with a single machine. Most of them do not have embroidery and overlock machine where they cannot reach the expected quality. Right after the war period, some organizations have conducted technical trainings for these members, and it was around 10 years before. After that none of them have received any attention. “We have an issue as we do not have any machine repair shops here. Lots of broken machines are there. Since my machine is broken, I have to always walk for other houses. If you all can give an assistance for the repair purposes, that will be really great.” Said Ms. S. Pirantha commenting at the forum. Participants mentioned that working as a society will be benefitted as they can get bulk orders. Many complaint that they receive only 20 rupees for the 2 ft x 1 ft carpet they make, and it is sold in the market for 200 rupees. They requested to improve market connectivity. Similarly, the participants requested a programme for Pillow Cover Painting and Dancing Costume making and Ari Work (Saree Decorations). Specially, they mentioned that they have no idea about the modern fashion designs and of there is a proper training given, they will be able to put their products into tourist outlets and hotels,

Development of the Textile Cooperatives in Northern Province coinciding the Tourism Value Chain for a sustainable development of the industry is one of the programs to be piloted in 2021. As advised by Mrs. Vaneja Selvanayagam, Director, Department of Industries in Northern Province, the team visited the Regional Sales Centre of Textile Products located in Nallur, Jaffna on 17th December 2020.

Line of Handloom and Power loom textile clothing were found in the showroom that were produced by many cooperatives as well as non-cooperative societies under the supervision of Department of Industries in Northern Province. The team commonly observed that there is a huge price gap with the existing Colombo market and the respective outlets. Yet, the stocks are slowly moving due to various reasons such as Color Combinations and Designs are not up to the market expectation and Lack of Merchandising and branding.

In addition to the above, team inspected that there is a huge requirement of training the front office staff on possible sales techniques and negotiation with customers as well.

The team visited the Pandarikulam Viewers Cooperative Society also to brief the planned project activities to be conducted with the members in 2021.

NPTB introduced EFECS Project to the Director, Department of Industries in Northern Province to obtain the necessary assistance on the upcoming projects related to various industries, especially the clothing. Chairman, NPTB explained the importance of these industries for the sustainability of tourism in the region. The meeting was held on 04th December 2020 in the Department of Industries in Jaffna.

Tourism Value Chain Officer briefed about the planned activities with the respective industrial societies with the methodology and its rationale. Accordingly, the Director of Industries explained the most productive procedures in developing these sectors. As there is a higher demand for the Batik Manufacturing, they are in the process of establishing a batik production center in Thonikal area. She stressed out that there is a huge requirement of obtaining proper online connectivity and for that they need trainings on online marketing. She appreciated the methodology that has been created by the project step by step to develop these SMEs in a systematic way. She explained that the process should be ended by launching their creations to the markets through a trade show or exhibition.

Initiating Organic focused Agri-Tourism as a Sustainable Model for Northern Development

Agriculture has unique magnetic power to attract tourists interested in nature and culture. Northern Province has its own agricultural setting though this has not properly utilized to attract tourism. Simply, the Agritourism was recognized along with the revolutionary Organic Movement to promote tourism. This pilot programme is basically designed to be implemented with Thirumuhapuram TCCS, Udayarkattu Farmers’ Cooperative Society and Puthukuduirippu Women Entrepreneur Cooperative Society in Mullaitive District. Accordingly, 30 nos of community members were identified and inducted for the programme. The programme is comprised with sessions such as Business Planning, Organic Farming, Agri Tourism, Food Value Addition followed by an exposure Visit and Market Linkage with Tourism Hotels.

Agritourism involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. This has become a widely accepted alternative form of tourism which links the agriculture sector with the tourism sector and provides opportunities for the rural community to increase their revenues. Nothern Tourism identified the importance of promoting Agritourism as a best fitting model for the development of North.

NPTB and EFECS briefed the capacity development requirement and the proposed project to Gnanam Education Trust which is one of the leading Agri Tourism institutions in Jaffna which owns many Agritourism Projects in North. Thinnai Organic Farm is one of the most popular farms as well as the Thinnai Hotel which is a large-scale hotel located in Jaffna. The team presented the findings to the pool of academic consultants and briefed about the requirements of the Farmers in the piloting areas. The meeting was held on 11th December 2020 at Thinnai Hotel, Jaffna.

EFECS Project organized a meeting with the Udayarkattu Farmers’ society in order to make awareness about the planned Agri Tourism Programme in Mullaitive on 05th December 2020. Accordingly, the General Manager of the Society with 10 interested farmers for organic agriculture combined with tourism activities participated the programme.

The project was explained to the members by the Tourism Value Chain Officer and the Market Development Officer of the Project. Specially the Agro Tourism Concept was explained to the members with its expected benefits as a profitable diversification that can be mutually benefitted by the existing hoteliers as well as the farmers. During the discussion had with the farmers, it was revealed that they have more suitable lands for this purpose. 

Members expressed their interest towards the proposed project, and they requested the assistance to obtain the appropriate technical knowledge and the market linkage in future specially in digital marketing.

As recommended by the department of cooperatives, EFECS in consultation with NPTB identified Puthukudiirpu women entrepreneur society which has a greater potential towards developing as a model Organic Agro Tourism Centre in Mullaitivu District. The induction was conducted on 05th December 2020.

Tourism Value Chain Officer with the assistance of the Market Development Officer explained about the project objectives and the methodology to the interested members of the society. President of the Society explained that the existing society land can be cultivated using the interested 04 members with Organic Vegetables as advised.

 There are around 2500 members in the society engaged in agriculture and various other industries will be benefitted if the model is successful.

Similarly, she explained their plans to construct a sales center to facilitate all 2500 members in the cooperative society and this project also will be a value addition. Value Chain Officer explained the way forward of the project after visiting the individual lands.

In order to introduce the proposed Agro Tourism Project of EFECS to the members of Thirumuhapuram TCCS society, a meeting was held on 5th December 2020 in Thirumuhapuram Society building.  This occasion was attended by the Thinnai organic farm which is interested in facilitating with the trainings using their most successful farm tourism model in Jaffna.

President welcomed the forum with an introduction to the society for the participants. The vice president expressed that the main income of the society members was coconut cultivation but that was changed after the war and now they have converted into paddy and vegetable cultivation and they have no idea how to incorporate agriculture with tourism.

Tourism Value Chain Officer of EFECS Project briefly presented the Agri Tourism Concept and its important as a leading sector. She explained the existing challenges in the vegetable market with the rain of chemicalized vegetables in the market. Therefore, an organic farming concept was selected for the development of Tourism Concepts.

General Manager of the Organic Farm of Thinnai explained about their organization and the objectives of facilitating this project. He explained their existing projects in Sudandirapuram and Devipuram areas. They have provided poultry sheds to the beneficiaries in that area. They would be able to conduct the required capacity building programmes for the benefit of society.

Connecting the rural based fisheries sector with the Tourism Value Chain

Fisheries industry represents the major portion of the livelihood of North whereas the largest beach belt is available with Northern Province comparatively to the other districts bordering to the see. Mannar being as the largest island of Sri Lanka was regognised to implement a pilot programme with the communities of Pesale TCCS and Thalavupadu TCCS.  Accordingly, a programme was designed and inducted for 30 members. Mainly focusing on dry fish and value additions, pilot will enhance their knowledge on Business Planning, Fish Processing & Preservation, Packaging System, Powder based fishery products (Sea Weeds), Export Quality and Value Additions.

Aligning with the development initiative taken towards the development of Fisheries sector into the tourism value chain, the Project team conducted the induction programme for the Pesalai Victory Mother Women Society on 10th December 2020.

This society was established in the year 2018 as a women society and currently there are 40 members in the society. Out of wish 20 members are in the process of making dry fish and per day one member make 35kg of dry fish using 100kg of raw fish. Popular verities are Prawn, Saala, Katta.

After presenting the programme, team understood the seasonal pattern of dry fish production where they have all around the year fish verities such as Suda, Sala, Cuttle Fish, Prawn and Crabs. In addition to that from September to March they have seasonal verities such as Kumbala, Paraw, Katta, …etc. Mostly the good sunlight is there during this season and therefore that is the ideal season for sundried fish production.

“At present our members daily income is around 1200/-. The barrier for the improvement is there is no capacity building as well as the machinery” said one of the members of the society. Although the dry fish availability is there, it is exceedingly difficult to find good markets as they do not have packeting plants and technology. The bulk raw dry fish is sold at ridiculously small prices at the existing context. In the society only 02 members are having packeting machines. Initial investment, Machinery are the issues for the development.

If the society has 10×12 Rectangular Type drying net, they will be able to continuously do drying without any issue. They requested to give them the opportunity to see how the powder-based products are manufactured. Iceman factory in Mannar make these kinds of products.

In response to the explanations about the tourism opportunities in Oyster Market, a society member mentioned that there are no such limitations, if there is demand they can supply any amount of Oyster. Not only that from September to March see weeds are available and if a proper training provided on making see weeds for the purpose of manufacturing gelatin, but the society could also do more explained by a member. Mannar is famous of the Pearl Industry, but there is no proper knowledge given to identify the pearls. They requested the society to conduct a programme on the Pearl Identification Techniques. Team visited an existing dry fish preparing site with the members of the society after the induction.

Induction Programme on Fisheries MSME Development Programme for the Thalvupaadu TCCS followed by a Field Visit to the Existing Dry Fish Sites held on 10th December 2020. Thalvupadu Women TCCS Society established in 1984 and rebuilt in 2017 after the war was identified to pilot the dry fish-based product development pilot programme.

The members of this society directly sell dry fish to the venders as wholesale specially for Vavuniya and Kandy. The basic bottlenecks they have are obtaining the business registrations, Public Health Inspector’s Approvals, lack of labeling and packaging machinery, working capital. On top of everything this society is suffering due to the unavailability of a land or a building for their members to engage with this production activities.

After the induction programme, the team visited the existing dry fish sites of the members.

Cashew Producers will be linked up with the Tourism Value Chain…

Northern Province has considerably higher number of cultivation lands as well as an ideal soil and weather conditions for the cashew cultivation. Cashew being one of the most wanted for the hotel and restaurant industry, the pilot was designed to improve the cashew industry in Northern. Kilinochchi and Mullaitive Districts were recognized to conduct the pilot programme. Katta Vinayagar TCCS owning a cashew cultivation as well as the Wanni Cashew               company in Kilinochchi will be taken into the capacity development and market development programme. Identifying the needs of the SMEs, 13 days programme is being planned to include Business Planning, Cultivation & Crop Management Practices, Processing and Value-Added Products, Food Packaging, Marketing (Branding, Digital) and Costing Financial Management for Cashew Based Products. Project is planning to offer an exposure visit to the trainees and also a market Linkage with Tourism Hotels.

Cashew industry has been recognized as an industry that has a greater potential to be merged with the tourism Value Chain in Northern Province. Accordingly, the project selected one small scale entrepreneur in Poonakary, Kilinochchi District to be assisted with Capacity Building.

Briefing Nature Wins Pvt Limited (Wanni Cashew), Kilinochchi on upcoming programmes on 14th December 2020. The value chain team visited the small-scale cashew factory located in Poonakary Area in Kilinochchi to introduce the program and its ultimate goals. Ms. Jesmina started explaining about her business. The business has started in 2019 with the intention of offering 250 women employments and at present there are around 15 women is working in cashew manufacturing. Structurally, one Marketing Officer, 01 Accountant and 13 processing staff is in operation at present.

Cashew industry has been recognized as an industry that has a greater potential to be merged with the tourism Value Chain in Northern Province. Accordingly, the project selected one small scale entrepreneur in Poonakary, Kilinochchi District to be assisted with Capacity Building.

The value chain team visited the small-scale cashew factory located in Poonakary Area in Kilinochchi to introduce the program and its ultimate goals. Ms. Jesmina started explaining about her business. The business has started in 2019 with the intention of offering 250 women employments and at present there are around 15 women is working in cashew manufacturing. Structurally, one Marketing Officer, 01 Accountant and 13 processing staff is in operation at present.

Their main business is supplying cooking cashew to hotels before covid, but with the huge decline in tourism they were unable to continue this operation. Therefore, they have reached to the retail markets such as supermarkets, restaurants. Currently she is limited to Jaffna and Vavuniya Markets.

The entrepreneur is a mechanical engineer by profession and has no knowledge on food science. But she has done lots of online research and got into this field. She expects to develop her capacity to deliver more advanced product lines. Since the machines are reducing the quality and the taste of cashew, they do the cashew cleaning process by hands.  She explained that the breakage as well as the reduction of taste are major impacts of machine-based production. She explained that she buys 2000Kgs of Raw Cashew as 40% from the Local Market (Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Mannar) and 60% from the Societies. Out of those 2000kg, she manufactures 400kg processed cashew and per week she sells around 125kgs.

She has a special requirement of obtaining a training on branding and marketing as well as the Accounting. More specifically, she needs to improve her capacity on monthly and annual bookkeeping and reports. She has enrolled with the Agriculture Modernization Project and has purchased some machinery. She requested to obtain a professional training on machinery operation from a leading cashew manufacturer such as Royal Cashew, Ranscrip Cashew…etc. based on Colombo. 

In terms of Value Addition, she must improve her capacity on oil removing and food hygiene. As she has already applied for GMP she needs to take her manufacturing process advanced to obtain the ISO certification. More training on Packaging will be useful. In addition to the capacity building requirement, she pointed out that there is a huge price gap between her products and the products available in the fairs. The gap is roughly around Rs. 400/-. Therefore, she needs to have her own plantation one day to achieve the price. She has leased a land in Mullaitive, Chilawattha Area near the Pallakattuwan Temple with an extent of 100Acres. She has already planted 30 Acres of Cashew and planning to use the rest of the land as an Agro Tourism attraction. She is expecting a training or proper guidance on planning the Agro Tourism Site with the advises on the Approval Process. VCO explained that there will be a training programme for tourist hoteliers on Approval Process in 2021 and she will be able to attend for this. Finally, the Value Chain Officer informed that the programme dates will be informed soon.

Coloring the Northern Tourism Value Chain with Cultural Dancers……

Understanding the requirement of entertainment for tourism, Northern Tourism planned to promote Northern Cultural Dancers for tourism. Considering the availability of dancers in Kilinochchi District and also the unique opportunities to promote theater style dancing activities in nature friendly live platforms in Delft Islands, Northern Tourism selected Kilinochchi and Delft to create two groups of dancers for tourism. The programme will comprised with Skill Development Trainings, Auditions and Personal Grooming Programme. Ultimately, the dancers will be liked up with tourism stakeholders to improve further.

Delft in Jaffna has a unique piece of culture blended with awesome nature. Hundreds of years old traditional cultural dancers practicing Nattu Kuththu which is one of the endemic dancing patterns in Northern Province is still alive in this island. Delft is attracted by many tourists due to its natural beauty, but the tourism value chain members are disseminated in various territories and perfuming individually. EFECS focused group discussions identified the requirement of gathering the value chain members while promoting the island as a destination blended with Nature-Culture and Beach.

Accordingly, a discussion with the Divisional Secretary of Delft followed by a field visit conducted in Delft by the Northern Province Tourism Bureau and the EFECS Project on 13th December 2020. Delft Dancing Society has lots of potentials to be groomed as a professional group of dancers though the lack of training and exposure also the poor recognition has become the bottlenecks for these professionals to grow.  

Team discussed about the existing challenges and the way forward with the cultural dancers during the field visit. The natural theatre located behind the ancient temple for the purpose of conducting the dancing ceremony was observed by the team. EFECS in collaboration with the Department of Cooperatives and Northern Tourism Bureau is planning to commence the cultural dancers programme in Delft in 2021.

Discussing with the Cultural Dancers in Delft Island

The natural theatre located behind the ancient temple for the purpose of conducting the dancing ceremony was observed by the team.

Professionalization of Tour Guides in Northern Province

As per the Value Chain Study conducted by EFECS project, Northern Province is lacking with professional tour guides to provide required services for the tourists. Understanding the need of tour guides, a residential 20 days programme has been organized by Northern Tourism which comprised with 25 travel guides representing five districts of the province. Existing and interested guides with C pass for English and 6 Subjects at GCE O/L will be selected for the programme.

“We will be conducting a self-observation visit on the five routes proposed by the Project and then develop a customized programme” said Dr. Vivekanth, Chief Executive Officer, International Knowledge Pool attending the meeting on Tour Guiding Residential Programme at 17th December 2020.

Re-building the Accommodation Sector of Northern Province

Understanding the importance of securing their revenues through the domestic tourism initiative as a short term strategy, Northern Tourism expects to conduct number of trainings during 2021. 100 nos of SME hotels will be capacitated with Tour Package Development, Digital Marketing, Awareness Programme on Hotel Registration and Pandemic Preparedness Programmes in 2021.

Ultimately, this programmes will lead to a better implementation of the Sustainable Development Plan of Northern Tourism with Cooperatives in 2021. It will be impacted in building capacity of producer cooperatives to obtain better revenues from tourism value chain. While connecting the trained producer societies with the direct value chain entities pilot will display the most effective methodology to promote cooperative products using the developed Real North Brands. Motivate empowered tourism cooperative community will be lined up as a Tourism Cooperative for sustainable development of the project.

For a sustainable Cooperative Tourism in North….

To assist the planned activities of the EFECS Project, Northern Province Tourism Bureau organised a quick review meeting with the Commissioner of Department of Cooperatives. Accordingly, the Value Chain Officer of the EFECS Project explained the planned activities with the Cooperative Societies in detailed.

Cooperative Commissioner explained that there is a requirement of capacity development among these selected cooperatives as they do not have exposure towards tourism. He further explained that the Institute of Cooperatives located in Vavuniya will be able to assist the entire programme to capacitate these cooperatives continuously.

Chairman of NPTB requested the Cooperative Commissioner to organize a meeting with all five Assistant Cooperative Commissioners to explain about each activity in the district. Similarly, he explained that there is a necessity of connecting the cooperative community with the existing tourism stakeholders. Cooperative Commissioner explained that the project takes the right strategy in developing the planned Cooperative Tourism through these new initiatives.

The commissioner stated that there is a society in Oddusuttan (Mullaitivu TCCS Union) with 6 Acres land with cashew trees and requested to contact Mr.Stanly – 0773459178- Secretary to discuss a way forward.

He further mentioned that they celebrate Palmyra day in every year and all Palmyra societies bring their dancers drama artists to this function. Since last five years they are celebrating that event, and this can be a good opportunity to link with the tourism activities. He further explained about the Cultural Dancers available with the Oddusttan PDCS.

VCO discussed about the selection of tour guides from cooperative societies from some interviews and provide trainings. She further requested ideas about an establishment of a Product Centre in Jaffna or Vavuniya with the assistance of the Northern Province Cooperative. VCO expressed the idea of establishing an industrial cooperative shop. Commissioner mentioned that he will further search on this matter and he stated it is good to start a Product Showroom with a Cooperative Museum which is more suitable value addition for tourists.

NTB Chairman mentioned that they have planned to feature the cooperative society manufacturers in their quarterly magazines. In fact, the proposed programme would lead towards a proper business diversification as a short-term alternative as well as a foundation for an extraordinarily strong affiliation for future tourism with the participation of the cooperative community. Therefore, he explained the requirement of empowering the selected societies as a pilot under the continuous supervision of the Department of Cooperatives and the Northern Province Tourism Bureau.

“Our institution has the capability of coordinating these programs with the respective cooperative societies under the guidance of the Commissioner of Cooperatives in consultation with the Northern Province Tourism Bureau” said Mr. Chandrasekaran, Provincial Co-operative Training Institute at the Meeting on collaboration with the Provincial School of Cooperatives, Department of Cooperatives for sustainable development of the proposed Capacity Development Pilot Programs held on 18th December 2020. EFECS Project Progress Review Meeting at Department of Cooperative Development  was conducted on 04th December 2020 in Jaffna, Northern Province.

Setting the goals for 2021 with Northern Province Tourism Bureau…..

EFECS Project Progress Review Meeting at Northern Province Tourism Bureau was held on 04th December 2020 at NPTB in Jaffna, Northern Province. Northern Province Tourism Bureau invited EFECS Tourism Value Chain Team to present the progress of the project activities related to the tourism stakeholders in Northern Province. Accordingly, the Tourism Value Chain Officer of the project did a detailed presentation on the progressing activities including the newly commenced activities planned with the cooperative community connecting the future tourism activities to diversify their activities into new revenue generating sources related to tourism.

Value Chain Officer stated that all activities are aligned with the Northern Tourism Policy and the project is critically looking at the avenues where the Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs in Tourism can be empowered through effective financial backgrounds as well as the capacity building. Tourism Value Chain Officer conveyed that the Project would like to assist NPTB for their proposed Quarterly Magazine by providing the necessary financial assistance as well as connecting the entrepreneurs empowered by the project. Tourism Value Chain Officer requested the assistance from NPTB to conduct the programmes planned with the entrepreneurs engaged in Palmyra production, Handloom, Tailoring, Fisheries, Cultural Dancing as well as tour guiding. TVCO further expressed about the activities related to the MoU between EFECS and ASMET.

Chairman, Northern Province Tourism Bureau appreciated the progress of the project and he explained that it is especially important to complete the activities in a successful manner to display a proper value chain development model before the project ends. Director, NPTB stressed on the importance of aligning with the government policies and procedures and connecting the stakeholders under the flagship of the NPTB to sustain the project initiatives with the stakeholders.

Chairman advised the EFECS Project to strictly monitor the activities of ASMET as the NPTB is completely responsible for all affiliations activated in the province with related to Tourism. He stated that still there are not any request has been submitted to him by ASMET to connect with the SMEs. Therefore, he stressed that, NPTB board has given the consent for the EFECS project to conduct their activities under the supervision of NPTB, if there is any MoUs between the project and any other societies, the project should act responsibly without damaging the reputation of Northern Tourism.

 He further explained that the NPTB is looking for affiliating with the Department of Cooperatives to continue the model activities initiated by the EFECS Project after its termination. Therefore, NPTB Director and the Chairman highlighted the importance of conducting the activities in cooperation with the Department of Cooperatives as well as the District Secretaries to have more credibility and future sustainability. He communicated that the NPTB will plan the Quarterly Magazine named Real North and inform the TVCO soon.

Tourism Value Chain Officer presented a copy of the Quarterly Newsletter of the Project to the Northern Tourism Bureau for their reference. Similarly, the Tourism Value Chain Officer invited the NPTB for the Introductory Meetings to be conducted with the respective societies during the month of December.

Chairman, Northern Province Tourism Bureau proposed to add the Replica Industry also for the list of related industries to be streamlined. He explained that there is a requirement of being connected with the Department of Industries and briefing the Assistant Cooperative Commissioners together in one session after discussing with the Cooperative Commissioner.