Sponsored Heroes who Enhance Our Lives from Behind the Scenes

Heroes who Enhance Our Lives from Behind the Scenes

2020 Apr 18

There’s a popular proverb that states ‘there are two sides to every story’. And in most cases, one of the sides are out in the open, but the other side is hidden and is rarely revealed. In the midst of the unfortunate Coronavirus situation that we are currently facing, convenience is something that is all too familiar to us, but is now considered a luxury.

During this time, when our orders for grocery items are placed, we expect it to be delivered within a few hours. In a time where the entire country is advised to stay indoors, and many offices and schools are closed, we still tend to expect convenience and quick deliveries when we place orders. However, have you ever stopped to think about the strain that the farmers and the supermarket staff members are experiencing, to deliver your essential items right to your doorstep? We spoke to some of the team members of Cargills, in order to gather insight into the backend process of obtaining fresh produce and conducting home deliveries, during this drastic period of time.


“I have two little ones and I don’t get to spend a lot of time with them. My younger one is only two, so she doesn’t feel the void of me not being at home but my older one keeps asking me every day, if tomorrow is an off day for me. And what am I to say to him? He’s too young to understand the gravity of the current situation.”

For the past 14 years, Vinod has been a loyal employee at Cargills Food City, currently undertaking operations at the Rajagiriya branch. When they start operations at around 7:30 in the morning, they are only able to come home by around 10:45 in the night. Before the Coronavirus made its way to Sri Lanka, the employees working in the Rajagiriya branch, mainly handled stocking of goods on shelves, providing the cashiers with serial numbers and helping customers with loading the purchased groceries into their vehicles.

But things are much different now. Currently, there are less than 50% of employees that usually work in the Rajagiriya brunch. They conduct all operations and have even commenced home delivery service during this dire period of time. With a very limited number of hands on deck for support, these employees have to take thousands of orders per day, sort and pack the items ordered by customers and ensure it makes there way to customer’s homes through an efficient delivery system.

“My branch caters to thousands of customers, but given the current situation, it is extremely difficult for us to conduct home deliveries per day, at maximum productivity. We never miss any orders, we always try our best to deliver exactly what the customers require. But sometimes, it takes time to process the orders.”

Some orders are around two trolleys full of items. And the bigger the order, the more time it takes for our staff members to process the order.” Customer’s patience and support during this time is all Vinod hopes for. Some customers tend to be hard on them, not knowing the cruciality of the situation. Some customers place their orders in different supermarket chains and if another supermarket delivers their orders before Vinod’s team does, they return the goods they ordered, robbing the opportunity of delivering grocery items to another family.

The health risk that these employees are exposed to, is another cause for concern. Working outdoors 14-15 hours a day during these uncertain times puts them in an uncomfortable position when going back home to their families, as they will inevitably put their family’s health at risk too. But all of these concerns are kept aside by Vinod and his team, as conducting an essential service to their customers is their top priority right now.

For the operations within the supermarket and home deliveries to run smoothly, the Cargills team has to make sure that a significant amount of fresh produce and dairy products arrive at the supermarkets on time. The team directly collaborates with a widespread, strong supplier network of over 5000 dairy farmers and additional farmers who harvest fresh vegetables and fruits.

The responsibility to feed a nation at a time where essential items are scarce, is a huge burden that they have to bear. Harvesting produce planted in acres of land, with minimum labour, fertilizer, harvesting equipment and other resources is certainly not a walk in the park. Additionally, loading and unloading tons of fresh produce and dairy products, sorting out issues that come up with transportation during times where the curfew is imposed, minimizing the damage of fresh fruits and vegetables and even the continuation of planting more and more fresh produce to minimize delays in harvesting are just the tip of the hardships that they have to face, during this situation.

While they experience these hardships, the farmers still ensure to carefully collect their harvest of fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh milk and other fermented dairy products at 10 collection centres that are established by the Cargills team. The farmers reach the collection centres at different times, to minimize their goods from coming in contact with many people, ensuring the safety of their produce. The Cargills team then packs the collected produce and distributes it to over 410 Cargills Food City outlets islandwide.

Let’s take a moment and think how we will survive, if farmers who produce vegetables, fruits and dairy products and supermarket staff members who collect, pack and deliver these essential items, are not able to carry out their services? As much as front-liners like healthcare professionals and workers, the Sri Lankan police and the Sri Lankan Tri-forces should be applauded for their continuous bravery and support; these unsung heroes, our farmers and supermarket staff members who are working to provide the required nutrition to our citizens from behind the scenes shouldn’t be ignored as well. Sometimes, we might be quick to judge and might lose our patience when deliveries are later than expected, for non-availability of certain items or when orders are not processed on time. As frustrating as it is, understanding that these times are hard for everyone and being considerate and appreciative towards them is the best way to show them our support, as Sri Lankan citizens. Instead of calling them out on their minor mishaps or delays via social media, practising patience, spreading positivity, acknowledgement and appreciation will undoubtedly bring a smile to their faces and motivate them to continue their marvellous work ethic. In a time where everything around us is uncertain and agitating, our appreciation towards those working hard to meet our demands can go a long way.