Encouraging home gardening in the urban city of Colombo to combat surging food costs, Sri Lanka’s most customer-friendly Bank HNB PLC, launched its flagship initiative to revive and revitalize the agricultural industry, ‘Saru Ge-Watte’ across nine selected branches in the city.
Working in collaboration with agricultural offices at the district level, the second leg of the initiative was launched at the Wellawatte, Thimbirigasyaya, Bambalapitiya, Sea Street, Kollupitiya, Green Path, Head Office, Muttuwal and Kotahena customer centres recently.
HNB Deputy General Manager Retail and SME Banking, Sanjay Wijemanne, HNB Deputy General Manager CHRO and CTO, L. Chiranthi Cooray, HNB Deputy General Manager Legal Board Secretary, Thushari Ranaweera,HNB Assistant General Manager Microfinance, Vinodh Fernando, HNB Assistant General Manager SME, K. Indravasan, HNB Regional Business Head Colombo Region Somaskandasarma Narenthiran, Agriculture Department Commissioner General, A.H.M.L. Abeyrathna, Department of Agrarian Development Officer, Shiromi Ratnayake and Agrarian Services Assistant Production Assistant, Ranjith Pushpakumara were present at a special ceremony held to mark the occasion.
“If you look at the Colombo District it is very densely populated, so the home gardening concept has become smaller and smaller as people are now confined to living in apartments. However, with our initiative people can start growing their fruits and vegetables right on their balconies which will benefit their health and families.”
“Through this initiative, we are encouraging economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, educating citizens and the younger generation about the value of home gardening and cultivation and most importantly providing nutritious meals to every household,” HNB Deputy General Manager CHRO/ CTO L. Chiranthi Cooray said. HNB also distributed plants and seeds to residents and businesses in the area to promote home gardening.
Additionally, HNB officers and officials from the Agricultural Department also invited and visited residents in the vicinity of the four branches to join them in their efforts. The Bank’s extensive portfolio of SME customers working in the sector offered plants, seeds and fertilizer at discounted rates, while Agricultural officers provided short introductory sessions on home gardening.
HNB also set up a ‘Podi Podi’ business for selected microfinance entrepreneurs to sell their products at the customer centers during the launch of the initiative.
Agriculture Department Commissioner General, A.H.M.L. Abeyrathna stated, “We are proud of this timely initiative since consuming nutritious fruits and vegetables has become vital now more than ever. With the incentives and the support provided by HNB, we hope that one day every household will have its home garden and a source of good food, regardless of the size of its backyard.”
The campaign launched in the Central Province looks to connect farmers in non-banking rural segments with buyers in urban areas.