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TAMAP workshop on e-Agriculture and Digital Market Platforms to strengthen knowledge and initiatives for digital transformation

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To provide stakeholders a platform to gain further understanding of current applications and initiatives of e-agriculture systems, the European Union-funded ‘Technical Assistance to the Modernisation of Agriculture Programme’ (TAMAP) conducted a workshop on e-Agriculture and Digital Market Platforms in Colombo .

TAMAP in collaboration with the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute (HARTI) brought together private and public sector entities to discuss digital solutions for farmers. Participants were provided with information regarding new agricultural technology applications to expand markets and market opportunities. The current COVID-19 crisis underscored the need to harness e-agriculture solutions to provide real-time information while practicing physical distancing.

Welcoming the participants both at the venue and those joining the workshop online, Dr Christof Batzlen, TAMAP Team Leader indicated that, “TAMAP has started to analyse the demand for e-agriculture solutions in Sri Lanka. TAMAP and HARTI have initiated this discussion to take stock of who is doing what and to examine the nature of the long term plans. The workshop is an entry point for further discussions, regarding the facilitation of e-agriculture and intended to provide direction and recommendations for e-agriculture and digital market platforms in Sri Lanka.”

Joining the workshop via Zoom, Sebastian Balcerak of TAMAP provided a market perspective on What is e-Agriculture? Overview on Various e-Agriculture Systems and Applications in the Global World. He elaborated on the EU’s existing support for e-agriculture, current players, large and small, and interactions between both buyers and sellers.

Explaining FAO’s Digital Agriculture Strategy, Approach and Plan for e-Agriculture in Sri Lanka, Dr Xuebing Sun, FAO Representative in Sri Lanka and Maldives, said, “e-Agriculture is one of the major strategies used by the FAO to promote transformational change in the agricultural sector. FAO is committed to assist the government and its partners to support an emerging digital society. The goal is to develop a national approach: A holistic digital-agriculture approach with a national vision and overall strategic objectives. This to be achieved by identifying the digital-agricultural priorities of the nation and defining the areas of intervention, as well as stakeholders’ responsibilities and necessary resources.”

As the agency responsible for dissemination of appropriate agriculture technologies to farming communities, the National Agriculture Information & Communication Centre, Department of Agriculture’s representative at the workshop, S. Periyasamy, Director, elaborated on What are GoSL’s requirements for an e-agriculture system in Sri Lanka.

He stated that although NAICC encountered challenges to engage stakeholders in an action plan, several ICT initiatives designed by the Department of Agriculture are being successfully implemented. These include management information systems, mobile applications, sharing information through websites, radio broadcasting, call center solutions, social media-based solutions, and digital and printed publications.

Prof. Ranjith Premalal De Silva, Director/CEO, HARTI, while expressing his views on Digital Market Platforms – Issues and Expectations, asked if farmers are prepared to undertake this change and move towards virtual interaction. He considered that, “From farm-gate to food plate, the length of the supply chain can be minimized through digital market platforms”. Prof De Silva elaborated on some constraints to the introduction of the platforms such as farmers’ perspectives, buyer/consumer concerns, retaining the middleman’s legacy, e-product deliverables and the technological backdrop.

Subsequently several digital market platforms for the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka were presented. Mr H.M.J.K. Herath of the GIS Unit of HARTI, presented the HARTI platform and Govipola of Croptronix, Helaviru of Epic and Govi Mithuru of Dialog provided information about their platforms and product offerings. The participants were also updated on the development challenges of these platforms and the future directions for strengthening their user value.

This was followed by a vibrant panel discussion looking into strategies to unlock key bottlenecks for e-agriculture development. Prof Buddhi Marambe of Peradeniya University of Agriculture facilitated the entire workshop and the panel discussions.

Dr Olaf Heidelbach, Programme Manager at the EU Delegation concluded the workshop by stating: “It is amazing to see what has been developed over the past years by the private sector while working in cooperation with the government. My main recommendation for the future – on the country’s e-agriculture strategy – is to identify the comparative advantages of different stakeholders by establishing who is doing what, best. The development of e-Agriculture in Sri Lanka depends to a large extent on private sector initiatives. Dr Heidelbach expressed his satisfaction over the view from the government that “it wishes to play an enabling role as a regulator and ensuring a level playing field.”

 

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A ‘phygital’ experience at HSBC Premier Centre in Pelawatte

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With the demographic equation changing and the mass affluent customers now also choosing to live in the suburbs, HSBC is gearing its branches of the periphery of the city to service customers in this segment.

Pelawatte has become the latest HSBC branch to be upgraded to be an exclusive Premier Banking Centre to meet the growing demand of the affluent population in the residential hub of the Colombo metro region.

The newly refurbished Premier Centre was declared open by Mark Prothero, CEO for HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives. Also present was Nadeesha Senaratne, Country Head of Wealth & Personal Banking, together with senior management and staff.

Nadeesha Senaratne, said, “HSBC has established a long history of 128 years in Sri Lanka, and in the past few years we have seen the value of strategically expanding to meet the specific needs of our customers.”

HSBC’s Pelawatte branch was opened in 1998 and is conveniently located at no 418B Battaramulla – Pannipitiya Road, Battaramulla which currently serves a diverse portfolio of retail banking customers. With the new improvements undertaken, HSBC hopes to provide customers with an inclusive banking service, and attract potential new customers with its Premier banking proposition and worldwide banking service, within the expanding residential neighborhood.

The Premier Centre in Pelawatte models HSBC’s flagship Premier Centre located in Flower road- Colombo 7, with an expansive ‘open’ space concept for casual open dialog with customers. The space has been optimized to enhance the customer experience by providing a ‘phygital’ banking experience with private meeting rooms specially designed to give customers an exclusive banking service with the assistance of a dedicated Relationship Manager. It also features video conferencing facility, which enables customers to connect with their Premier RM’s internationally, while enjoying the highest standards of privacy. Customers can walk out of the branch with the ‘Bank in their pocket’ by opening an account in less than an hour and begin transacting digitally, almost instantly.

(HSBC)

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SLT & Mobitel successfully conclude digitization of Lankagama Village

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Fulfilling its role as the nation’s pioneer in Telecommunication Services, the SLT Group successfully completed the President’s directive of providing high-speed connectivity solutions to the Lankagama Village recently.

An event was held to mark this proud achievement on 20th September 2020 in the presence of Oshada Senanayake – Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), Lalith Seneviratne – Group CEO of SLT & Mobitel, Kiththi Perera- Chief Executive Officer of SLT, M.B.P. Fernandez – Chief Operations Officer of SLT, Prabath Dahanayake – Chief Marketing Officer of SLT, Sudarshana Geeganage – Chief Financial Officer of Mobitel, Shashika Senerath – Chief Marketing Officer of Mobitel, Rasantha Hettithanthrige – Senior General Manager, Engineering & Operations at Mobitel along with SLT & Mobitel technology partners Huawei, ZTE and the community.

The SLT Group provided high-speed 4G/LTE broadband and enhanced voice services within record-time despite the fact that the Lankagama Village is located at the southern boundary of the Sinharaja Rain Forest, in the Neluwa Divisional Secretariat, Galle District; posing severe logistical challenges. Further, the SLT Group also offered SMART classroom solutions consisting of tabs, laptops and school supplies including stationery thereby opening up a world of possibilities for the students in the remote village. (SLT)

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Local tyre manufacturers say ‘no need’ to import motorcycle and three-wheeler tyres

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

Local tyre manufacturers request the government not to import motorcycle and three-wheeler tyres as they have the capacity to supply locally produced premium quality tyres for the segment, without leaving room for any supply shortage in the market.

“We have the combination of quality and technology to meet the demand in the market”, a leading local tyre manufacturer said.

“We have the capacity to meet the local demand for motorcycle and three wheeler tyres and we are already supplying the products to the market, fully meeting its demand,” they said.

“In 2019, Rs. 1,062 million worth motorcycle and three-wheeler tyres and tubes were imported to the country. This means we are able to save Rs. 1,062 million in foreign exchange this year by producing all of these locally”, they pointed out.

“We produce sufficient quantities of high-demand tyres for the local market without any supply shortage. We are supportive of the government’s drive to encourage Sri Lankan companies to manufacture goods that can be manufactured in Sri Lanka. We request the continued support of the government to keep our efforts up in this direction,” they said.”Only a few types of tyres of special sizes are not produced locally. Those products are imported in small numbers. There is lesser demand for these tyres as they are not widely used”, they said.

“Apart from establishing ourselves in the local market, we are in the process of further improving our production capacity to boost our current export volumes. As a result of it, we will be able to create new jobs for thousands of Sri Lankans”. they said.

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