SLAF successfully concludes Sri Lanka’s first ever Agripreneur Conference | Daily FT

Moderator – Sri Lanka Agripreneurs’ Forum CEO Ruwin Mapa, Spice Council Founder President Sarada de Silva, HNB Head of SME Products & Partnerships Dr. Niluka Amarasinghe and Orient Finance Independent Non-Executive Chairman Rajendra Theagarajah at the Panel on Agri-Financing

Moderator- Agripreneurs’ Forum Secretary Dr. Selvanathan Anojan, SpectrifyAI Co-Founder Jeevan Gnanam, Thuru  Co-Founder Heminda Jayaweera and Agrithmics CEO Prashanth Premkumar at the Panel on Agri-Tech

Moderator – Sri Lanka Agripreneurs’ Forum Chairman Rizvi Zaheed, Nidro Supply MD Dawn Austin, CBL CEO Nalin Karunaratne and SLT-Mobitel Marketing General Manager Charaka Perera at the Panel on Agri-Marketing

Moderator – National Development Media Centre Director Milinda Rajapaksha, University of Peradeniya Faculty of Agriculture Prof. S. Kodithuwakku, Department of Agriculture Senior Scientist Lionel Weerakoon and University of Peradeniya Faculty of Agriculture Senior Professor Buddhi Marambe at the Panel on Agri-Policy Facilitation

Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera
Sri Lanka Agripreneurs’ Forum Chairman Rizvi Zaheed

The Sri Lanka Agripreneurs’ Forum (SLAF) recently held the Agripreneur Conference 2023, themed “Empowering Agripreneurs for a World of Abundance” at the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research & Training Institute (HARTI) in Colombo. 

This conference aimed to bring all stakeholders of agribusiness into one common platform to foster innovation and drive progressive change.

The conference, which was held in collaboration with Hatton National Bank (HNB), the MBA Alumni Association of the University of Colombo (MBAAA), and Daily FT and under the official endorsement of the Ministry of Agriculture saw over 150 key stakeholders in the agribusiness domain come together to address present-day challenges and seize new opportunities in the sector.

SLAF Chairman Rizvi Zaheed welcomed the participants and highlighted the timely need to conduct such a conference targeting agripreneurs to uplift their skillsets and provide them with insights that could spark progressive action.

The keynote address for the event was delivered by Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, who stressed the need to develop a comprehensive agri-policy that does not change with the minister and appreciated the efforts by SLAF to uplift the agribusiness sector through the various initiatives done in sync with the government.

The conference was divided into four sessions – Agri-Financing, Agri-Marketing, Agri-Tech, and Agri-Policy Facilitation – each featuring keynote speeches and panel discussions.

For the Agri-Financing Session, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Former Chairman Rajendra Theagarajah delivered a keynote speech on “The Secrets to Securing Loans, Grants, and Investments.” This was followed by a panel discussion on “Opportunities Available in Agri-Financing and How to Access Them,” with panellists including Theagarajah, Spice Council of Sri Lanka Founder Chairman Sarada de Silva, and SME Products Head Dr. Niluka Amarasinghe, and Partnerships of Hatton National Bank.

The session was moderated by SLAF Chief Executive Officer Ruwin Mapa.

The first session was followed by the Morning Tea where participants received an opportunity to interact with each other to improve their networks. The Agri-Tech Session featured a keynote address by Jeevan Gnanam, Co-Founder of SpectrifyAI, on “How to Succeed as an Agripreneur in the Digital Age.” This was followed by a panel discussion on “Utilising Agri-Tech to Make Your Agribusiness More Efficient,” with panellists including Gnanam, Thuru Co-Founder Heminda Jayaweera, and Agrithmics Chief Executive Officer Prashanth Premkumar. The session was moderated by SLAF Secretary Dr. Selvanathan Anojan.

This was followed by lunch which itself was followed by the Agri-Marketing Session. During the Agri-Marketing Session, Marketing of Mobitel General Manager Charaka Perera delivered a keynote speech on “The Ingredients to a Good Marketing Strategy.”

This was followed by a panel discussion on “Reaching New Markets and Expanding Your Customer Base,” with panellists including Perera, Nidro Supply Managing Director of Dawn Austin, and Ceylon Biscuits Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Nalin Karunaratne. The session was moderated by SLAF Chairman Rizvi Zaheed.

For the Agri-Policy Session, National Agriculture Policy Committee Member Prof. Buddhi Marambe delivered a keynote speech on “The Role of Policies in Shaping Agribusinesses.” This was followed by a panel discussion on “Policy Facilitation for a Better Agribusiness Sector, with panellists including Prof. Marambe, Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Peradeniya Dean Prof. Sarath Kodithuwakku, and Ministry of Agriculture Former Scientist Dr. Lionel Weerakoon. The session was moderated by Media Centre for National Development Director Milinda Rajapakse.

The Agri-Policy session was followed by the evening tea break and the networking session which marked the conclusion of the conference.

Through the program the participants gained a whole plethora of insights regarding the world of Agri-businesses and the conference served as a platform to facilitate action. The participants got to engage in the exciting Q&A sessions and had the opportunity to network with stakeholders across various calibres attached to the Agribusiness Sector.

In his concluding remarks, SLAF CEO Ruwin Mapa, stated that SLAF is deeply committed to uplifting Sri Lankan Agribusiness through its various initiatives and that such events are to be expected even in the future. It was also highlighted that all stakeholders of the sector should unite together under the umbrella of SLAF in order to catalyse this change and he urged all Agri-related stakeholders to join hands with SLAF to achieve this common objective.

Pix by Upul Abayasekara 


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