December 20, 2021
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced that it entered into an agreement to invest up to $80 million in John Keells Holdings, PLC (JKH), the largest conglomerate in Sri Lanka, using the JICA-funded “Leading Asia's Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP Fund).” Of this amount, a maximum of $40 million will be utilized by LEAP. The investment will be used to construct facilities for distribution, transportation, and storage by JKH, and to build and improve the company’s agricultural supply chain from producers to consumers.
In the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka, improving the supply chain, including storage and transportation of food products, has been an issue. The investment in JKH will contribute to the reduction of food loss and waste and it will enhance food quality through the development of advanced logistics infrastructure. Moreover, agriculture is a key industry in Sri Lanka, and with the expansion of the JKH's business, this is expected to generate new markets and employment opportunities. In addition to the investment, the ADB plans to provide technical assistance for organic farming to 2,000 farmers.
Sri Lanka is also facing difficulties in raising funds from the private sector due to the economic downturn caused by successive bombings that took place in April 2019 and the spread of infection of COVID-19. It is expected that this investment in the private agricultural sector will promote foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka.
The LEAP Fund is a part of the follow-up measure for the “Partnership for Quality Infrastructure,” which was announced by the Japanese government in 2015. It targets high quality private infrastructure projects in the Asia-Oceania region and provides assistance for them under various arrangements, such as public-private partnerships. In March 2016, JICA approved a $1.5 billion investment in private sector investment financing for the LEAP Fund. The LEAP Fund provides support for a wide range of sustainable infrastructure projects undertaken by the private sector in ADB member countries of the Asia-Pacific region, and it is directed at projects in fields such as reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, and provision of medical services at reasonable prices.
JICA will continue its collaboration with countries and international organizations to promote quality infrastructure investment and contribute to social and economic development in developing countries and regions based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).