Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB)
Three questions for

‘Our objective: sustainable trading partnerships’

Three questions for agricultural expert Inoka Nilmini Wanasinghe from the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB)

Interview: Brigitte Spitz Illustration: Julian Rentzsch


An expert in agriculture and marketing, Inoka Nilmini Wanasinghe has worked at EDB in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city, for 16 years. The trade organisation is based next door to the regional office of the Import Promotion Desk (IPD) – an initiative established to support imports in Germany that acts as an interface between European importers and enterprises in partner countries. Wanasinghe has been working closely with IPD, a GIZ partner, on trade fair appearances in Germany.

What are Sri Lanka’s most popular exports?

Organic products make up a key part of our exports. Sri Lanka offers a wide variety of goods. Besides our celebrated Ceylon tea, we grow high-quality spices and coconut products that are much in demand in Europe. The range of natural ingredients from organic farming is constantly expanding. At the same time, the agriculture sector drives sustainable development and creates jobs, especially in rural areas. Our goal in Sri Lanka is to continue strengthening the agricultural sector’s organic segment and boost exports.

How important is your cooperation with the Import Promotion Desk here?

We work hand in hand, because we have a shared objective: to set up sustainable trading partnerships between companies in Sri Lanka and European importers. Our cooperation with the IPD regional office in Colombo has grown even closer in recent years. By pooling our efforts, we have professionalised our trade fair appearances.

‘The agriculture sector drives sustainable development and creates jobs.’

Inoka Nilmini Wanasinghe
Expert in agriculture and marketing

You exhibit at the world’s leading food and drink trade fairs, such as BIOFACH and, later in the year, Anuga in Germany. What specific support has IPD given you?

Last year we took a ‘learning on the job’ approach and created our BIOFACH booth in collaboration with IPD. This involved, for example, setting up a workshop to explain the European market to all our exhibitors and prepare them for questions from buyers. In 2022, GIZ covered our costs for the booth, but in 2023 we were able to finance our involvement from exhibitors’ participation fees alone. All these lessons will come in useful when we head to the next trade fair at Anuga in Cologne.

Hand in hand

The Import Promotion Desk (IPD) is an initiative of the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) and sequa gGmbH, the development organisation and partner of German business. IPD is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). IPD has four regional offices, one of them in Sri Lanka. The teams find suitable suppliers for European importers and prepare them for business with the European market.

The project contributes to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Image sources: adobe.stock/Matka Wariatka; IPD