Mid-term Review of ACIAR project on ‘Developing Food Loss Reduction Pathways Through Smart Business Practices in Mango and Tomato Value Chains in Pakistan and Sri Lanka’

17 – 21 March 2024

Marking eighteen months of successful and impactful endeavours, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project on ‘Developing Food Loss Reduction Pathways Through Smart Business Practices in Mango and Tomato Value Chains in Pakistan and Sri Lanka’ underwent its mid-term review (MTR) from March 17 to 21, 2024, in Sri Lanka. The review involved participants from the IPS, the University of Peradeniya (UOP), the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL), Wayamba University of Sri Lanka (WUSL), Mallawa Insights (Australia), and Quaid e Azam University Islamabad (Pakistan).

Dr Pablo Juliano, Group Leader (Food Processing and Supply Chains), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Mr Mohamed Aheeyar, Researcher, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) served as the reviewers. The observers included Dr Pratibha Singh, Regional Manager (South Asia), ACIAR; Dr Patrick Nugawela, Board Member, Lanka Fruit and Vegetable Producers, Processors and Exporters Association (LFVPPEA) and Mr Suresh Ellawala, Director- Ellawala Horticulture.

The MTR began with field visits in Anuradhapura and Dambulla from March 17-19, where the team studied the operations at the Dambulla Dedicated Economic Centre (DDEC) and engaged with various stakeholders, including wholesalers, collectors, and retailers in the mango and tomato sectors to understand the wholesale market dynamics and the challenges faced by local actors. During the visit to the Mangifera farm, both male and female TEJC mango farmers shared their farming experiences on how they utilised the commercial farmer training offered by the ACIAR project to improve their orchard management practices.

The LFVPPEA officials at the Ellawala farm highlighted extensively the industry perspective on the mango sector and the benefits of collaborating with the ACIAR project. At the Keels supermarket collection centre in Dambulla, the team observed modern agribusiness practices that minimise supply chain losses while ensuring quality and affordability. The team also visited the Participatory Tomato Trial field at Thalawa where trials related to trellising and partially burned rice husk applications are happening as part of the ACIAR project. To understand the women’s role in the mango sector, the team visited the ‘Sithamu’ women’s farmer organization in Thirappane, where the women mango farmers demonstrated how they overcame farming challenges through collective and collaborative efforts.

The MTR concluded with a two-day workshop at the Mahaweli Reach Hotel in Kandy on March 20-21, where significant progress and findings from the project activities in Sri Lanka and Pakistan were shared. Key presentations included: