Seafood producer Divron Bioventures recently gathered the fishing community, local government authorities, and its business partners in Vavunikulam to celebrate its successful exporting of giant freshwater prawns (Macrobrachiumrosenbergii) to several high-end international markets.

The event was attended by Victoria Coakley, Australia’s Head of Development Cooperation in Sri Lanka and a delegation from the High Commission.

Market Development Facility – Australia’s flagship private sector development programme in Sri Lanka has been a key supporter and facilitator of Divron’s business expansion over the past few years. Also present at the occasion were Shanthi Srikandarasa, MP, and Kandiah Sivanesan, Northern Provincial Council Minister of Fisheries.

Directors Shan Meemanage and Dr. Tim DeJager have built a successful and sustainable business centred on the rearing and harvesting of a special variety of giant prawn, which can sometimes grow up to over half a kilogram.

Divron has a nursery in Negombo, where it mimics the prawns’ natural habitat and grows prawn larvae, following which it stocks selected reservoirs in the Northern Province, which has the ideal conditions, with the partially grown prawns.

MDF encountered Divron in 2015. As Dr. DeJager said, “the value chain existed in small fragments,” but Divron needed support to connect the dots. MDF stepped in to strengthen the links in the value chain – through helping Divron establish a Regional Centre in Vavuniya, which acts as a hub for the transport of both of baby prawns (to the reservoirs) as well as full-grown prawns (from the reservoirs), and by adding to its transport network by cost-sharing on the purchase of the trucks necessary to move the fresh product from point to point. Through the successful business partnership, MDF has supported Divron to expand its cold storage facilities, provide reliable information to the fishers on harvesting and post-harvest best practices, and connect more local fisher communities to the network.

Head of Development Cooperation Victoria Coakley said, “Australia is committed to partnering with businesses like Divron that have the potential to take world-class Sri Lankan products and produce to the international market. The giant prawn is becoming a must-have on the list of tourists in Sri Lanka – and we believe products like this are flag-bearers for the authentic Sri Lankan experience visitors to this country are looking for.”