Sri Lanka’s Minister of State for Agriculture Wasantha Aluwihare has sought AIT’s expertise in enhancing farmers’ knowledge and dissemination of modern technologies to help facilitate the transition of agricultural produce from the farmland to the market. He was interacting with AIT officials during his visit to the Institute of November 1, 2017.
The Minister remarked that while Sri Lanka was once referred to as the granary of the East, the specter of climate change and the twin impacts of flood and drought are acting as impediments in the achievement of the goal of food security. Close to 40 percent of the agricultural produce is wasted, and AIT can help enhance the knowledge base and skill set of farmers, extension workers, as well as traders and officials. “Minimization of waste and maximization of output in our goal, and I would encourage farmers to visit AIT to learn about recent developments in technology and to adopt new strategies,” the Minister said.
Accompanying the Minister was Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Thailand H.E. Kshenuka Dhireni Senewiratne, who spoke of the close relations between AIT and Sri Lanka, adding that in the first five months of this year, AIT had conducted 17 capacity building and training programs. “Collaboration between AIT and institutions in Sri Lanka is expanding, and it is a mutually beneficial relationship,” the Ambassador said.
AIT President Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai described the relationship between AIT and Sri Lanka as long-lasting. “Students from Sri Lanka have excelled at AIT,” Prof. Worsak said, as he quoted the example of Sri Lankan AIT alumnus Prof. Tissa H. Illangasekare, who is widely recognized for his contribution to the advancement of science. The AIT President also offered the Institute’s expertise in augmenting human resources in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan delegation included Minister Wasantha Aluwihare, Ambassador Kshenuka Dhireni Senewiratne, D V Bandulasena, Secretary, State Minister of Agriculture, Samanthi Thennakoon Wijeratne, Private Secretary to the Minister, WAG Sisira Kumara, Additional Director General, Department of Agriculture, and Ms Mahesha Bharathi Jayawardana, Head of Chancery, Embassy of Sri Lanka to Thailand. The delegation sought information of exposure visits, and post-harvesting technologies.
The Sri Lankan minister met with President Worsak, Prof. Kazuo Yamamoto, Vice President for Administration, Prof. Rajendra Shrestha, Dean, School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD); Prof. Chettiyappan Visvanathan, Dr. Anil Kumar Anal, Dr. Amararatne Yakupitiyage, and Dr. P Abdul Salam of SERD; Dr. Kavinda Gunasekara of Geoinformatics Center; Sanjeev Jayasinghe, Director, Office of Advancement; Sumama Shrestha of Office of External Relations; Dr. Jonathan Shaw, Executive Director and Dr. Md. Zakir Hossain, Head, Agriculture Resources and Environment Unit, AIT Extension. The delegation also met with AIT Extension officials to discuss proposals on capacity building in Sri Lanka. A highlight of the visit was the meeting of Minister Wasantha Aluwihare with Sri Lankan students at AIT.