Annual congress of the pgia begins tomorrow

by Prof. H.P.M.Gunasena,  former Director, PGIA

The 29th Annual Congress of the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture will be held from November 16 to 17 at the University of Peradeniya.  This is an international scientific event held annually to bring to the public domain the   findings of original research undertaken by the postgraduate students of this institute. From recent times, the congress has expanded its horizons to provide a forum for the participation of postgraduate students from renowned universities from both developing and developed countries. Their participation adds significance to this annual event, being able to share the findings of research in broad areas of agricultural sciences conducted in universities world over. This is an excellent opportunity for the policy makers, scientists, fellow-students, academics and industry specialists and the general public to share the valuable research finding of postgraduate students. No country can achieve economic development sans research. As Wilhelm von Humboldt, Founder of the University of Berlin   correctly said, "Most of the tomorrow’s economy is being born today in the university research laboratories".

The National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka serves as the co-organizer of 29thAnnaul Congress. This year’s Congress will be a colorful event with the participation of several dignitaries and eminent international scientists from renowned global research centers and universities. The Chief Guest will be Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Sri Lanka Yi Xianliang.  The inaugural session will be chaired by Prof. C.M.B. Dematawewa, Director of PGIA and studded with eminent personalities such as Prof. Upul B. Dissanaayake, Vice Chancellor, Prof. R.L. Wijeyeweera the Deputy Vice -chancellor and Prof. GaminivPushpakumara, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture and the student representative Mr. Chathura Vidyaratne, Congress Coordinator Dr S.M.C. Himali, past Directors of the PGIA and academics of the national universities.

 At the inaugural session Dr. Roland Buresh, former principal scientist to the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines will deliver the keynote address on sustainable nutrient and soil management in paddy rice cultivation.

Several other international scientists are also due to address this congress as guest speakers. These include Prof. Naresh Thevathasen, University of Guelph, Canada, Prof. Emmanuel Frossard, Institute of Agricultural Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, Dr. Samuel Thevasayagam, Bill and Melinda  Gates Foundation, USA and Dr. Alistair Gracie, School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania.

 On 16th November morning, there will be a pre-conference workshop held for the PGIA students and other budding scientists on scientific abstract writing.  The pre-conference workshop will be co-ordinated by Dr Chalinda Benaragama, Director/Agriculture Education Unit, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya.

 The technology generation is incomplete unless the results are communicated to the stakeholders. Therefore the proceedings of this Congress are published in the Journal of Tropical Agriculture Research annually in four volumes. The proceedings of this years’ congress is already printed and will be presented to the Chief Guest at the inaugural ceremony.

 Established in 1975, the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA) is a unique autonomous institution attached to the University of Peradeniya. It is the first and the oldest postgraduate institute established in Sri Lanka for developing in-country capacity for postgraduate education, training and research in all fields of agricultural sciences and to provide appropriately trained scientific personnel for rapidly changing and diversifying agricultural sector of the country. During the past 42 years of its existence PGIA has pursued these objectives diligently with considerable success.

The Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Peradeniya is intrinsically linked to the PGIA through Boards of Study corresponding to its Departments/Disciplines. At present there are 11 boards of study  which are responsible for identifying emerging high impact fields of the agricultural sector for R&D, developing curricula and courses, organizing appropriate degree programs, short courses, teaching panel, selecting supervisors, admission of students and conducting examinations.

 The PGIA offers several degree programs which have been revised recently according to the Sri Lanka Qualification Guidelines (SLQFL). These include M.Sc., MBA, M.Phil., Ph.D., and DBA programs and Diploma and Certificate courses .The duration of these degrees vary from 01 - 03 years and the long duration programs such as M.Phil. and Ph.D./DBA includes a research component in line with national research priorities. The teaching and research supervision is conducted by qualified and experienced teachers selected from within and outside the university. The current panel of teachers consists of about 350 members.

 The annual admission is around 350 – 400 students. As there is a growing trend in admissions particularly from the industry, the PGIA established its Colombo branch on 9th February 2017, mainly to cater to the students from industrial sector. The PGIA gives highest priority for M.Phil. /Ph.D. degrees which has an in-depth research component. The selection of research projects is based on importance and relevance in order to produce high quality human resources for the development of the agricultural sector of the country. The PGIA has also established several collaborative partnerships with world-class universities, international R&D institutions, the national agricultural research system and the local industry to foster agricultural research.  These links facilitate split degrees, collaborative research, staff and student exchanges and sharing of scientific information.

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