RMP Coconut ahead of the curve in Covid battle

By Uwin Lugoda

Two weeks ago, the Export Development Board (EDB) issued a clarion call to exporters to commence operations after the end of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

“The Government requires that as a country, it is imperative to place emphasis on generating foreign exchange earnings, without which our economy cannot be sustained. It is time for us to come together and go forth into the world in search of new markets and new customers whilst strengthening our existing relationships and continuing to provide quality exports.”

The EDB also stressed that it is mandatory for all exporters to comply with the health regulations issued by the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services in this regard.

A company that is adhering to both of these requests by the EDB is RMP Coconut (Pvt.) Ltd., an exporter of high-quality, organic coconut-based products. Established in Sri Lanka over four decades ago, RMP’s product portfolio includes consumer products such as virgin coconut oil, coconut milk powder, desiccated coconut, shredded coconut/coconut chips, coconut flour, and wholemeal dried coconut; and industrial products such as aseptic coconut milk/cream and aseptic coconut water.

One of its subsidiaries, RMP Plantations, collectively accounts for over 800 acres of coconut plantations around Sri Lanka, and also entered the international market not long after its inception, catering to several elite brands, consumers, and industrial entities.

The workers adhering to social distancing guidelines while queuing up to enter the premises.

Kandetiya Agro (Pvt.) Ltd. is RMP’s fully owned manufacturing unit located in Pannala, Sri Lanka dedicated to the production of aseptic coconut milk. Franklands’s Food (Pvt.) Ltd. is another subsidiary of RMP Coconut (Pvt.) Ltd. and is headquartered in Notting Hill, Australia. It manufactures and distributes organic coconut and health food products and has its very own coconut estate and manufacturing plant.

RMP Coconut (Pvt.) Ltd. currently employs around 500 to 600 workers in Sri Lanka, most of whom earn a daily wage and depend on their salaries for essential needs.

According to RMP Director Lalitha Ratnayake, being mainly an export-oriented company, they decided to adopt the strict safety guidelines of the Government and start their workflow while keeping employees safe and motivated.

However, the company has gone beyond just the usual introduction of face masks and social distancing when it comes to ensuring the safety of their employees. Each of the employees who attend work are advised to keep their hands clean, regularly sanitise, and keep their bodies healthy, in accordance with the Government’s safety guidelines; they also ensure that every employee follows these guidelines.

RMP Director Lalitha Ratnayake

“We have also provided our employees with knowledge on the virus, including how to prevent it from spreading and how to take precautions when working here,” said Ratnayake.

They have also implemented several unique safety measures to ensure the safety of their workers in the company’s premises. One of the main safety measures they introduced was hourly mandatory steam inhalation for all their employees.

While there has been no proof that inhaling steam prevents Covid-19, it is known that it helps ease symptoms, such as cough, nasal congestion, and chest congestion, of anyone suffering any sort of respiratory illness.

RMP has also given disinfectant sprays to their security personnel to use on any vehicles entering the company’s premises, including delivery vehicles. Hand sanitiser is also available at every entrance, alongside disinfectant sprays for employees to use on their footwear.

Employees entering the premises also get their temperature checked, as fever is a symptom of the coronavirus.

Other areas have designated entrances with several strict measures to ensure that the employees do not bring any pathogens into the workplace from outside. These areas have the employees enter one at a time, wash their hands, walk through a small pool of water to wash their feet, and rewash their hands before entering the work floor.

Following World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, RMP has also implemented social distancing markers and has introduced adequate spacing in their seating and common areas to minimise contact between their employees.

With the economy slowly but surely being reopened by the Government, RMP Coconut appears to be a company that is ahead of the curve when it comes to its preparedness to keep Covid-19 at bay and contribute much-needed foreign exchange to Sri Lanka through its diversified coconut-based exports.