Amid the blessing rain on 27/11/2017, more than 100 people attended a ground breaking ceremony for Japan-funded Project for Establishment of Research and Training Complex at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jaffna. The Government of Japan decided to extend this grant assistance worth 1.6 billion Japanese Yen (about 2.2 billion LKR) through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The chief guests for the ceremony include Mr. D.C. Dissanayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education & Highways, Mr. Koji Yagi, Counsellor/Deputy Head of Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka, Prof. R. Vigneswaran, Vice Chancellor of University of Jaffna and Mr. Toru Kobayakawa, Senior Representative.
During and aftermath of the conflict, the entire Kilinochchi Campus of the university had to relocate for about 25 years until they finally moved back in 2014. The Faculty of Agriculture gradually increased its scale since then; currently 258 young and aspirational students from all around the island are studying together.
The new facilities to be constructed through this project include a building complex with laboratories and lecture rooms, crop and animal farms for field training, farm machineries and laboratory equipment. At the end of the project, there will be practical trainings for maintenance and operation of some of the equipment.
With this assistance, students will have an opportunity to receive field-based, hands-on knowledge on agriculture. From 1954 to 2016, JICA sent more than 2,700 experts to Sri Lanka, a considerable sum of them specialized in agriculture. These Japanese agriculture experts are known for their approach to go into the field with farmers to transfer their knowledge by ‘touching the dirt’. JICA expects these new facilities in University of Jaffna to produce more of these ‘farmer-scholars’ of Sri Lanka’s own and their ideas and innovations to bloom in the field.