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Organic agriculture experts visit leading research institutes and academics

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Experts from two of the world-renowned institutes on organic agriculture in Switzerland, currently on a brief visit to study the country’s ecosystem, an initiative of A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd (Baurs), met with officials of the country’s leading industry research institutions and academics, including visits to farmer communities including key sites and facilities, with many more planned in their itinerary.

On 05th August, the team of experts held fruitful discussions with Mrs. H M J Ilankoon Menike, Additional Director General- Development of the Department of Agriculture in Peradeniya and Prof. D K N G Pushpakumara, Senior Professor- Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Peradeniya, one of the oldest and pioneering institute in the country’s higher education in agriculture.

Whilst in Kandy, they visited an organic tea estate in Galaha and took a tour to the state-of-the-art laboratory of the National Institute of Fundamental Studies (NIFS) which conducts various cutting-edge research in natural and social sciences for the nation’s development and scientific advancement, including its Center for Advanced Research on Nitrogen Management in Agriculture (CARNMA).

They met with Dr. Lakshman Rodrigo- Director- Rubber Research Institute, Dr. Mrs. C S Ranasinghe- Director- Coconut Research Institute, and researchers including the principal agriculture scientist at The Centre of Excellence for Organic Agriculture in Makandura, the government body under the purview of under Department of Agriculture and Ministry of Agriculture.

The team visited conventional farmers in Kalpitiya and Thambuththegama, and observed some of the organic fertilizer processors at the Rajanganaya area including a tour to the Dambulla vegetable market. They also held a training session at the Baurs’ site in Anuradhapura for staff, agents, dealers, key farmers and compost producers, in adherence with strict Covid-19 health protocols, and went onto to observe a newly established organic project.

Their 10-day visit to study the country’s agro-ecosystem comes at a time when Sri Lanka stands firm in its decision to ban chemical fertilizers and pesticides and go onto embrace an organic food culture, to achieve a healthy nation under its ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ national policy framework.

The team of experts from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL) in Switzerland together with Baurs will put together a scientific plan on a holistic approach towards embracing a practically viable organic agroecosystem.



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SLTMobitel-PEOTV and DP Education launch ‘Videsa DP Education’

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SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT, Telecommunications and Mobile Services Provider has teamed up with DP Education, to launch ‘Videsa DP Education’, a dedicated educational channel on CH.215 of SLTMobitel–PEOTV, ensuring school children from Grade Five to Advanced Level have access to a high-quality learning experience with Rewind TV.

The revolutionary services of SLTMobitel-PEOTV includes ‘Videsa’ a series of educational channels hosted on the platform, that comprise of 06 TV channels dedicated to individual grades covering grades 06 to 11, that enhance the knowledge sharing with curriculum-centered lessons from a panel of reputed teachers. DP Education, a unique online learning platform, leverages digital solutions to deliver quality education to empower students. Together, Videsa and DP Education, enrich the educational arena further with the ‘Videsa DP Education’ channel, a dedicated television space for the students at home.

This path-breaking partnership is a commitment by SLTMobitel–PEOTV to support the education of children, whose options are limited due to the challenges convergence posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative will use the home TV screen and mobile devices as a ubiquitous medium to impart knowledge providing access to quality education for students across the country.

Commenting on the initiative, Rohan Fernando, Group Chairman, SLT said, “We understand that parents are now faced with the challenge of keeping their children safe during the pandemic as well as having to deal with the ongoing disturbances to their children’s education. As a solution to ensure that their learning remains uninterrupted, we have already introduced six different channels for Grade 6 to Grade 11 students through our Videsa digital platform. Our latest initiative and partnership with DP Education has now enabled us to launch a dedicated channel with unique learning experiences in key subjects such as Mathematics, Science and English for students from Grade 5 to Advanced Level with the Rewind TV facility. We are appreciative of the exceptional efforts extended by Mr. Dammika Perera and his team at DP Education and are grateful for the opportunity to connect the two learning platforms together in unison to create a revolutionary learning experience for our children”.

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Thornton and Dane’s combined projects portfolio tops Rs 5.9 billion

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Thornton Engineering, the Nextventures owned civil engineering company, has announced the acquisition of a 100% stake in Dane Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. for Rs 350 million, creating a construction business with a combined portfolio of Rs 5.9 billion.

The new entity, Thornton and Dane Engineering, expects to add new construction projects with a cumulative value of Rs 5 billion within the current financial year, nearly doubling its projects portfolio, the Company said in its announcement.

“We are excited at the post-acquisition prospects for the new company, because we strongly believe that it is a good example for the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts,” said Thornton and Dane Director Dinesh Schaffter. “The combined strengths of Thornton and Dane create a formidable as well as extremely flexible engineering company that is capable of executing projects of varying scope and scale.”

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Capacity-building programs for SMEs

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Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries (SLCSMI), the apex body for SMEs in Sri Lanka has been at the forefront in supporting the SMEs during the pandemic. The chamber took several measures since the pandemic first hit the country in the first quarter of 2020. The Webinar series “Way Forward for SMEs” was a grand success among other initiatives, which was conducted with the participation of prominent scholars, leading business personalities as well as top rankers of state and private sector organizations.

The president of SLCSMI, Prof. Rohan De Silva said: “We are always there to represent and support the SMEs in the country and that’s our prime duty. During the first wave, we understood the need to share the knowledge and provide psychological support for the business owners to withstand the difficult times and that’s how the webinar series was born. Our initiative was well received by the businesses and our audience was not limited to Sri Lanka alone, as we witnessed participants from around 12 countries.”

Prof. Rohan further said that the chamber has looked at the possibilities of providing sustainable solutions to the SMEs beyond merely conducting knowledge sharing sessions and the Executive Committee has decided to introduce a range of Capacity Building programs to develop the SMEs. These programs include different solutions to address various gaps among the SMEs and the chamber intends to issue a valuable certificate for the participants of these programs.

The chamber has partnered with the Asia Pacific Institute of Money and Entrepreneurship Development (iMED) to design and deliver the programs and the details of the Programs will be unveiled at the launching event scheduled to be held on the 25th of September.

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