‘Gal Oya – critical pillar of social upliftment in Ampara’

‘Although the factory had been abandoned for over a decade, the Browns Group evinced an interest in reviving the erstwhile Hingurana Sugar Factory. Now known as Gal Oya Plantations, it was revived 15 years ago in 2007 as a joint venture between the Government and a consortium of private sector investors, comprising Brown and Company PLC and LOLC Holdings PLC in a unique Public-Private Partnership. Apart from the mammoth investment that went into resuscitating the factory, a key challenge for Gal Oya Plantations was to convince local farmers to revert to sugarcane cultivation, not an easy task considering their previous negative experience, an LOLC press release said.

‘However, encouraged by the trustworthy LOLC brand and the viable plan from the management to revive the factory, many farmers came onboard. Even though finding skilled labour in the area was a challenge, LOLC managed to hire skilled labourers and restart the factory. Making steady progress year after year, the resumption of the sugar factory has ushered in unimaginable prosperity into the lives of these farmers who took a leap of faith with Gal Oya Plantations. Apart from providing farmers with a means of income, the company has constructed better infrastructure around the factory premises by building irrigation, roads and drainage, thereby uplifting the surrounding community, the release added.

Extracts from the release; ‘The thriving sugar plantation today employs about 1,300 direct employees across 8,500 Ha of agri land. About 8,000 farmers are engaged in sugarcane cultivation and over 30,000 people gain indirect employment from this project. Gal Oya Plantations has successfully become one of the largest employers in the area. Under its solid leadership, Gal Oya Plantations has provided tremendous support and welfare for farmers. Its farmer community was able to overcome the fertilizer shortage, since Gal Oya recycles 100% of its sugarcane waste into organic fertilizer, which is then sold to farmers at concessionary rates. In 2022/23, farmers will receive a portion of the highest-ever profits earned by Gal Oya for the first time in its history.

‘Gal Oya has provided support to all local temples, churches and mosques over the last decade. During the power shortage period, generators were provided for 30 religious places to sustain operations. In addition, 1,000kg of sugar is provided free for functions organized by local religious and social institutions. More than 45 water bowsers are provided annually for occasions hosted by army camps, police stations, schools, preschools and other societies in the area.’

‘As a key employer in the area and integral to the lives and livelihoods of the local community, Gal Oya considers it its duty to help the community by fulfilling countless requests. Focusing on the welfare of children, Gal Oya organizes a School Children Nutrition programme for nearly 2,000 students at a value of Rs. 400,000 per week. The company also constructed a children’s park at Deegawapi Dutugemunu Vidyalaya. It sponsors the cleaning of playgrounds, police stations, schools, preschools and other organizations as and when requested. A dwelling for ailing monks is scheduled for construction in Aranthalawa by the company at a cost of Rs. 7.5 million. Moreover, blood donation camps are held annually with the participation of Gal Oya employees.

‘Venerable Poddiwela Saddharma Keerthi Sri Chandananda Nayaka Thero of the Viharadhipathi – Deeghavapi Pariwara Chaitya Rajamaha Vihara noted, “The Hingurana area became like a grave when the earlier sugar factory closed down. It was a very sad situation. But since Gal Oya was established, the Hingurana town has flourished. Gal Oya dutifully donates to various public religious and national missions. By helping ‘Viharas’ and temples in the area, the company provides a great service for the welfare of the farmers. And we cannot forget its noble mission of uplifting the school system and building future generations. We can clearly see that Gal Oya’s journey is on the correct path.”

‘Engaged in sugarcane cultivation, Mallika says, “I have been growing sugarcane for about

10 years now and am making a tidy profit. Gal Oya does everything for us – even providing fertilizer and fuel, and helping in land preparation. The company even helps in the cutting and transport of the sugarcane crop. Once the sugarcane is harvested, the money is given to us within 10-15 days. Thanks to Gal Oya, we can sustain our families and even save money.”


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