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Saturday May 18th, 2024

Sowing the Seeds for an Agricultural Transformation

Pradeepa Jayasinghe General Manager – Fertilizer & Agri Technology DIMO Agribusinesses

DIMO Agribusinesses is shaping the future of agriculture with innovation, inclusion and sustainability.

DIMO, a leading Sri Lankan conglomerate, has expanded into agriculture with a vision of bringing next-generation agriculture to the local agricultural sector. Diversified in 2016, DIMO’s agribusiness arm has swiftly gained traction as a provider of quality fertilizers, seeds, crop care and technology solutions such as greenhouses and micro irrigation. Despite challenges from established agribusinesses and recent disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic and government policies, DIMO Agribusinesses has emerged as a leading entity in the sector. With acquisitions of fruit and vegetable processing and coconut processing companies, and strategic product developments such as controlled release fertilizers and seed paddy coating technology, the business has displayed remarkable growth, contributing to the overall performance of the DIMO group.

“The goal is to achieve a balanced contribution of 50:50 from agri inputs and agri-foods by 2027, aligning with the group’s strategic vision for growth and innovation,” says Pradeepa Jayasinghe, General Manager – Fertilizer & Agri Technology at DIMO Agribusinesses in this interview. “DIMO’s Agribusiness arm has displayed remarkable growth, making a significant contribution to the overall performance of the DIMO group, with the highest top line and bottom line in the 2022/23 financial year,” he adds. Excerpts of the interview are as follows:

How is DIMO Agribusinesses impacting people’s lives and the overall agriculture sector?

We recognize the challenges of low productivity in agriculture, which only contributes 7.8% to the national GDP despite engaging 28.2% of the population. We attribute this to the lack of adoption of modern agricultural technologies and treating agriculture as a business. Therefore, we aim to transform traditional, low tech, and low-value agriculture into modern, high-tech, and high-value agriculture through strategic management, technology adoption, and innovation. We have implemented door-to-door education campaigns, field trials and demonstrations, introduced SMART farming methods, empowered female farmers, and operated across the entire agriculture value chain in fuelling the dreams and aspirations of the communities in the agriculture sector.

What segments do you represent, and how are your brands, products, solutions, and value-additions making a difference and helping to transform agriculture in this country?

DIMO Agribusinesses is dedicated to advancing modern high-tech farming practices across the entire agriculture value chain. My portfolio includes DIMO Fertilizer and DIMO Agri Tech divisions, providing comprehensive solutions for farmers.

With DIMO Fertilizer, we focus on providing balanced plant nutrition solutions tailored to different crops and soil types. Our next-generation fertilizer range includes high-quality blends of chemical, organic, and organo-mineral fertilizers, supported by an extensive dealer network. Our own brands, such as DIMO Pohora, DIMO Gro+, and DIMO GroMax, as well as globally renowned brands like Nitrophoska, Dura and Penergetic, are leading the way in providing next-generation agricultural solutions.

To empower farmers and promote good agricultural practices, our experienced advisory and extension service team at DIMO Fertilizer provides personalized guidance and support at the farm level, improving overall agricultural productivity.

Under DIMO Agri Tech, we specialize in smart micro-irrigation solutions, protected cultivation systems, and a wide range of comprehensive services. Our partnership with Rivulis and Euro Drip, world-renowned micro-irrigation solution providers, brings the best irrigation solutions to Sri Lankan farmers. Our product range includes a multitude of micro-irrigation systems and accessories for sub-surface and on-surface irrigation systems including drip tapes, integral drip lines, online drippers, sprinklers, jets, lay flats, filters, valves, fertigation, and automation using satellite technology for enhanced growth efficiency and higher yields.

Additionally, our greenhouses and poly-tunnels offer year-round growing seasons and durable structures that can be customized to meet individual requirements. Our Agri Tech expert team also provides training and advisory services on maintenance, productivity consultation, and other services.

Furthermore, we have established our own agri-techno parks (ATPs) in key agroecological regions, serving as hubs for our next-generation agriculture activities and testing grounds for our products. Visitors to our ATPs can experience seed evaluation trials, vegetable seed production, and hybrid chilli production, gaining hands-on agricultural experience.

At DIMO Agribusinesses, we are committed to providing innovative and sustainable solutions that contribute to the growth and success of farmers across Sri Lanka, despite the challenges and disruptions in the agricultural sector.

What is your vision for DIMO as a catalyst for positive change in Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector?

Our vision at DIMO Agribusinesses is to foster and empower next-generation agriculture through strategic initiatives in key areas of the entire agri value chain.

DIMO Plant Nutrition: We have our own fertilizer blending facility and two organic fertilizer production facilities, enabling us to produce high-quality crop and soil-based chemical fertilizer blends, organic fertilizers, organo-mineral fertilizers, and liquid fertilizers. Our extensive island-wide dealer network ensures the widespread availability of our products. In addition to traditional blends made with first-generation/straight fertilizers (SF) such as urea, MOP, and TSP, we have introduced a “Next Generation Fertilizer” range, including Compound Fertilizers (CF), Slow Release Fertilizers (SRF), and Controlled Release Fertilizers (CRF). We have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Soil Science Department of the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Peradeniya to commercially produce Bio-Fertilizers (BF). Our latest addition to the chemical fertilizer range is the globally renowned compound fertilizer (CF) brand “Nitrophoska”. We also offer “Penergetic”, an innovative product for soil and crop health management, which is an organic compound with electromagnetic impulses that promotes sustainable and intelligent agriculture practices, optimizing soil biological processes. DIMO Agribusinesses is the sole authorized distributor of these products in Sri Lanka.

DIMO Agri Tech: We specialize in designing, supplying, and installing world-class “Rivulis and Euro Drip” Micro Irrigation systems and Green Houses, utilizing cutting-edge technology from Israel. Our offerings include site and crop-specific irrigation, fertigation systems, and protected cultivation systems to ensure optimum yields throughout the country. We also handle Small Farm Mechanization Projects, introducing appropriate technologies for mechanization in agriculture.

DIMO Agri Technology Parks: Our three agri technology parks, located in Nikaweratiya (low country), Dambulla (mid-country), and Lindula (upcountry), serve as hubs for sharing technology and innovative solutions in agricultural production. These parks also double as experience centres for farmers and university undergraduates. They specialize in various areas, including fertilizer and crop care commercial trials, seed evaluation trials in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, vegetable seed production, hybrid chilli seed production, big onion seed production, fruit orchards, flower (roses and gerbera) production, Shitake mushroom production, high-value vegetable production in tunnels, coconut production, paddy production, plant nurseries, and agri-tourism.

DIMO Agri Consultancy: We provide consultancies with appropriate technology and advice to enhance the productivity of commercial agricultural projects. We are the only agribusiness company that has collaborated with leading companies to improve their large-scale farms with technology applications and advisory services, guided by our expert team at DIMO. Our professional services encompass improving the productivity of existing commercial cultivations and setting up new agribusiness ventures in domains such as Technical Services, Advisory Services, and Quality Guaranteed Inputs.