- Firstlight now supports over 5,000 farmers’ livelihoods
- Enabled savings of annual foreign outflow of $15m
- Kegalle farmer network grown to 2ndhighest region for latex collection
Dipped Products PLC (DPL), international gloves exporter and part of the Hayleys Group, has expanded its smallholder network to Kegalle with over 1100 new farmers now connected to its DPL Firstlight farmer empowerment initiative.
DPL Firstlight, the company’s flagship award-winning ethical business initiative was spearheaded in the Monaragala and Kaluthara Districts and today empowers 3,000 farmers to be self-reliant. Since July 2020 the company began to implement the Firstlight programme in Kegalle to help rubber smallholders in the area achieve greater yields and prosperity. After continuous capacity development and provision of key input materials over the last two years, Kegalle has become the company’s second highest region for latex collection.
Having increased the volume of rubber sourced locally, the DPL Firstlight programme has also enabled savings of $15m in annual foreign outflow from Sri Lanka.
“One of our primary responsibilities is to care for the rubber farmers, the first link in our value chain. Our journey in Kegalle started in 2020 with 17 farmers at Thalgahadeniya – Warakapola. After seeing Firstlight in action, interest spiked amongst the farmer community and our network in the region increased to a thousand smallholders in just 500 days,” said Deputy Managing Director, Pushpika Janadheera.
“We are thankful for the support from Thurusawiya and the Rubber Development Department of the Ministry of Plantation Industries for partnering us to engage the rubber farmers in the area and solve these issues together. With the programme’s expansion to Kegalle, Ratnapura, and 5 other districts, Firstlight is now supporting the livelihoods of over 5,000 farmers every day. We will continue our regular education programmes on latex preservation and collection and plan to extend our network to a further 2,000 farmers this year.”
Under Firstlight, training and education workshops, the provision of 85,000 plastic collection cups and 7000 rain guards have all supported farmers to increase productivity and overcome issues around poor quality related to latex coagulation and climate resilience.
Mr. and Mrs. Samaranayake Banda, Smallholder Agents said “Now we have around 150 farmers and our income has improved as well. They are genuine in their transactions, where they measure and bill us transparently. The DPL team distributed stationary and school bags for our children. At first, I didn’t understand what Firstlight was all about, but now I understand that it’s a long-term, important journey to prosperity.’’
Rubber smallholders have praised the support provided, welcoming the increase in income and yield. Mr. Muttappuliyalage, a Kegalle Cooperative Society Farmer said, “There used to be just a little yield every time we go to remove the rubber since the animals would have eaten it before us, leaving us with a huge loss which threatens our income. Now, thanks to Hayleys and Dipped Products, we are living a better life. With my savings, I was able to buy a computer for my grandchildren, a water tank for the house and even a golden ‘’kothak’’ for the temple.”
Mr Nimal Pushpakumara, a Kegalle Cooperative Society Farmer says, “DPL didn’t just buy latex – they also looked after us, holding frequent workshops to educate us. Even during the pandemic, they helped us a lot.’’