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THE WORKSHOP ON SMART AGRICULTURE : LOGIC & NEW CONCEPTS

Sri Lanka is a fast-growing economy and has a population of over 20 million. Long history of state sponsored welfare policies and programs has led to an impressive performance in social development, particularly in comparison to South Asia. Sri Lanka attained middle-income status in 2010 and many strategies were developed to move towards upper middle-income category. One of the key factors that contributed to a high literacy rate (92.6%) is free education by state provided up to graduate level and mandatory primary education. Sri Lanka’s University system is State owned and State funded. The higher education system has three types of institutes; Universities and higher education institutions under the Ministry of Higher Education; Universities and Higher Education Institutes under other Ministries and Universities run by private sector.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the higher education system of Sri Lanka is to cater to the increasing demand for higher education from the increasing ranks of those successfully completing secondary level education. Government of Sri Lanka introduced a new bachelor’s degree stream, Technology, in several state universities as one of strategies to face the demands of higher education.
All the departments attached to the Faculty of Technology of Rajarata University of Sri Lanka have embarked on major revisions in order to modernize its curriculums. The student feedback and the comments of Wageningen University and Research (WUR) on Biosystems curriculum indicated a strong requirement to adopt a program related to Agricultural Technology, based on the strategic location of Rajarata University (RUSL) and the need to address the problems in the surrounding farmer communities of the area. However, when the number of agriculture-based degree programs already offered in the country is taken into consideration, it is of utmost importance to develop a curriculum that is both unique and problem solving. Henceforth, the relatively new “smart agriculture” seems to provide an ideal path for this new curriculum. Under this, academics at RUSL have identified several thrust areas such as Molecular Plant Pathology, Crop Modeling, use of data science and ICT in agriculture and Agricultural Automations which will provide the solutions for most agricultural problems while developing a unique profile for the graduates. Since this is a relatively new concept to Sri Lankan Agricultural sector, it is envisaged that a two-day introductory workshop with a hands-on session and a plenary discussion, in addition to the thematic sessions, would create the awareness among all stake holders.

The Main objectives of the workshop and Field visit are to;

  • Make the student community and potential employers aware of the aspects of smart agriculture
  • Identify the problems in the farmer communities that could be addressed through smart agricultural aspects
  • Identify the areas in the course modules required any modification and make suggestions to improve the syllabus.
  • Develop a draft MOU with Michigan State University, USA for further
    collaborations in the area of smart agriculture.

The workshop intends to create awareness among all stakeholders about aspects of Smart Agriculture and how these could be used in solving pressing problems in Agriculture. The field visit will be conducted to collect information from farmers in the presence of the experts with the idea of developing solutions through future collaborations. Discussions will be held at the Rajarata University after the field visits to develop a draft MOU with MSU. The academic staff of the Faculty shall participate as facilitators and learners. The number of participants will be 100 for the workshop. All students will be given an equal opportunity to participate in the workshop by selecting their representatives. A segment of other stakeholders will be selected from the Agriculture sector including Department of Agriculture, research institutes and all Agricultural Faculties, main funding bodies such as CARP, NSF, NRC and COSTI, industry, and policy makers such as Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Higher education.

Speakers
Michigan State University

Brad Day Ph.D
Professor ; Associate Department chair for Research

Dr. Brad Day received his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in Microbiology in 1999 where his research focus was biochemical characterization of Nod signal perception in soybean. In 2000, he received a co-sponsored National Science Foundation (U.S.) and Science and Technology Agency (Japan) postdoctoral fellowship. From 2000-2002, he conducted research at the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan, where his research contributed to the earl understanding of the molecular-genetic signaling events associated with immune
activation following chitin perception in rice. In 2002, he moved to U.C. Berkeley where he was a NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Brian Staskawicz. As an NIH-funded postdoc at Berkeley (2002-2006), he expanded his research interests to focus on the molecular-genetic basis of host immunity, using the Arabidopsis-Pseudomonas interaction as a disease model. During this time, his research contributed to establishing what is now commonly referred to as the Guard Hypothesis. In 2006, he accepted a position at Michigan State University as an Assistant Professor. Since 2006, his lab at MSU has worked to define the role of the actin cytoskeleton as a signaling platform for immune signaling in plants, and in this area, his group was the first to identify a link between the function of the actin cytoskeleton and gene-for-gene resistance. In parallel to these studies, research in the Day lab has also published extensively in the area of immune signaling in cucumber, and more recently, has expanded into the area of DNA-nanosensor technology for the detection of pathogens.

Dr. Day serves as the Associate Chair for Research in the Department of Plant, Soil
and Microbial Sciences. In 2017, Dr. Day was promoted to the rank of Professor.


David. M. Kramer
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ,
Hannah Distinguished Professor in Photosynthesis and Bio energetic 

Energetics and control of photosynthesis electron and proton transfer reactions reactive oxygen generation the conversion of light energy by plants into forms usable for life understanding the processes involved at both molecular and physiological levels, how they are regulated and controlled how these processes define the energy budget of plants and the ecosystem how plants have evolved to support life in extreme
environments. Among the tools used in Dr. Kramer’s lab are spectroscopic approaches including absorption, fluorescence, circular dichroism and electron spin resonance (EPR) applied to isolated membranes, organelles and intact plants. Students in the laboratory gain wide exposure to biophysical techniques and the important area of bioenergetics.


Research Assistant Professor
Kramer Lab Member

My primary research interest is to understand the mechanisms of photosynthesis, in particular, how the chloroplast’s molecular machinery is regulated to efficiently provide the right amount of energy in the right forms, without producing toxic side products. One of my approaches is to develop new methods and instruments to study photosynthesis in action. We have developed a large toolbox of spectroscopic tools to probe how plants, algae, and bacteria convert light energy to the ‘currency of life’ at the molecular level, in addition to identifying photosynthetic physiological functions.


Chungnam  National University


Cheol – Hee Kim 
Professor
Department of Biology
Chungman National University, Daejeon, Korea

Dr. Cheol-Hee Kim is the Director of the Zebrafish Center for Disease Modeling (ZCDM), Korea, and works as a Professor in the Department of Biology, Chungnam National University. He received his PhD from Osaka University Medical School, Japan, 1997. Before joining to Chungnam National University, he conducted research at Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, USA.

He has authored more than 140 original papers in highly reputed journals. His research focuses on application of zebrafish model for biomedical research and drug development. He actively collaborates with reputed universities and research institutes in the world. He served as organizer of the 4th Asia-Oceania Zebrafish Meeting, 2009. He also serves an Editorial Broad member of Developmental Dynamics.


Mahanama de Zoyza
Professor
College of Veterinary Medicine 
Chungman national University, Daejeon, Korea

Dr. Mahanama obtained his PhD in Aquatic Life Medicine from Jeju National University, Korea. Currently he is a Professor in Preventive Veterinary Medicine. After joining, he established the Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

His research focuses on disease control of fish, immunology of aquatic animals and development of nanomaterials for biomedical applications. He has published more than 90 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and four book chapters.

He actively collaborates with local and foreign universities and has received research grants from National Research Foundation (Korea), Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST), Fish Vaccine Research Center, etc. In 2010, he was awarded the Highest Honors Research Achievement, from Jeju National University. Currently, he is a section editor of Journal of Fish and Aquatic Sciences and member of World Aquaculture Society.


Stakeholder from Sri Lanka Software Industry

Dassan Wijesekara
Director of the WSO2 Solutions Architecture Team

An Enterprise Software Architect/Technology Evangelist with multidisciplinary skills and experience in building, evolving and operating rapidly-changing resilient enterprise systems at scale for fortune 500. An experienced coach/speaker who advise and assist CxOs, Architects, Consultants, Analysts, and Technical Specialists in wide range of
architectural disciplines. Visiting lecturer and external consultant in Enterprise Software Architecture.

Has been involved in architecture and designing e-government programmes / solutions with the specialization in using Big Data, Streaming 3D Analytics and IoT for Crop Modelling and Smart Agriculture in East African, South Asian and Oceania regions. Has contributed as a consultant in Open Data strategies in the UK and Australia.