Sudash Liyanage

Strengthening Sri Lanka’s pest control sector and enhancing its image

Pest management sector today
Gaining recognition as an important service sector for the maintenance of hygiene, and safety of humans and the environment.

Strengths of the sector
An essential service for many industries due to the growing interest in health and safety; its improved regulatory controls; and as a recognised disinfection services provider.

Weaknesses of the sector
Lack of formal training and further development of its professionals, inherent practices that lead to delinquency and being perceived quite poorly as a profession.

Three evolving consumer trends
Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is of prime importance; next is DIY products for general household pest control products; and increasing demand for safer and nontoxic protective treatment against termites.

Barriers to the sector’s growth in Sri Lanka
Lack of sufficient chemistries and re­sources to perform a professional job.

Other challenges hindering growth
Difficulty in introducing novel products and methods due to high costs and regu­lations, and the failure of marketing the sector as a profession to mitigate economic losses.

Gender balance in the sector
Unfortunately, this is very low. However, we see a rise in women joining as more family businesses enter the sector.

The main impact of COVID-19 on the sector
With the loss of tourism, and curfews and restrictions on movement through­out the island, the pest control sector nearly came to a standstill.

How the sector tackled these challenges
The saving grace was the continua-tion of disinfection services.

Initiatives to enhance the pest control sector in the post-pandemic era
The government formally and legally recognising pest control as an essential service; and regulatory authorities making us a part of their decision-making process.

What else is needed to drive the sector forward
Forging ahead and helping public health development programmes.

Scope of the sector in Sri Lanka
The scope for pest control is high if we create an environment with the proper regulatory frameworks.

Regional pest control sector in a nutshell
Highly developed and fast-growing, with novel techno-logies and innovations.

Local vs regional pest control
The prevailing local environment inhibits us from keeping pace with the regional sector.

Describe the sector to younger generations
A sector that younger generations require the most – they find it hard to live among many pests. But I don’t see them actively joining the sector.

Sri Lanka’s competitiveness
We’re highly competitive in terms of our experience with the labour force compared to the Southeast Asian region given the formal qualifications.

Impact of the digital age on the sector in Sri Lanka
There will be a positive impact through the use of digital technologies, social media, remote monitoring and sensing systems. AI can certainly help the pest control sector in the long run.

Sri Lanka’s readiness for tech adoption
We are ready – it’s only a matter of giving importance to the subject and managing the economies of scale.

Virtual team management in a sentence
It’s been beneficial in many ways, provided that companies continue to extend the required technical platforms and support for it to work.

Impact of CSR initiatives on the community
There has been a tremendous impact on the community because we partici­pate in many CSR initiatives – the most popular being the ‘Death to Dengue’ programme.

Productivity affects industrial and economic growth
Yes – it’s a measure of input to output ratio so if productivity isn’t maintained, any industry’s growth will suffer.

Corruption affects industrial and economic growth
Yes – it deters the influx of foreign direct investment (FDI), which is the need of the hour.

Competition drives innovation
Yes – it enables corporates to survive and sustain.

Your aspirations forthe next five years
For my organisation to become the trend-setter in the sector for hygienic and safer pest control measures.

Your mantra for success Strive for excellence in whatever you do.

– Compiled by Ashwini Vethakan
Sudash Liyanage is the Head of Environmental Science at Hayleys Agriculture Holdings