JICA Chair Programme 2023/2024 – Field Visit to UCIARS, Weligatta
As part of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chair Program 2023/2024, participants undertook a captivating field visit to the Institute for Agro-technology and Rural Sciences (UCIARS), University of Colombo in Weligatta, Hambantota. The day’s program was enriched by the presence of the Vice Chancellor Senior Professor (Chair) H.D. Karunaratne and the JICA team members. The highlight of the visit was a series of enlightening lectures on Agricultural Development in Japan. Dr Kazuo Ogata, an Emeritus Professor from Kyushu University, shared insights into the innovative practices that have propelled Japan’s agricultural sector forward. Another informative session was conducted by Dr Indika Palihakkara from the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna.
The field visit encompassed various aspects of agriculture including visits to farms and orchards. Students had the opportunity to witness traditional and technologically advanced techniques for cultivating crops. One of the fascinating highlights of the visit was the exploration of old and newly popular crops such as manioc and coconut. Students gained valuable knowledge about the cultivation, maintenance, and market significance of these crops, providing them with a comprehensive understanding of Sri Lanka’s agricultural landscape. The tissue culture laboratory at the UCIARS produces banana plants of the highest quality, which are then sold to farmers. This meticulous process ensures that farmers receive healthy banana plants with reduced susceptibility to diseases, promising a robust harvest. Furthermore, UCIARS adopts a community-focused approach by selling home-grown crops directly to consumers. This not only supports the local economy but also minimizes waste, contributing to sustainable agricultural practices.
The field visit was a transformative experience for the students, offering a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical exposure. The collaborative efforts between JICA and UOC exemplify the importance of global partnerships in addressing the challenges and opportunities within the agricultural sector.