SLIM Inaugurates Agri Saviya: Nurturing the Agricultural Sector from the Grassroots

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The Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM) recently inaugurated the first batch of 40 students of SL’s First Agri-Business Management and Entrepreneurial Programme in Kandy at the Grand Kandan Hotel. The Certificate in Agri-Business & Entrepreneurship (CABE) programme is a first-of-its-kind qualification available in Sri Lanka. The colourful, grand launch took place with the patronage of the Honorable State Minister of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation, Dr Seetha Arambepola. Professor Gamini Hitinayake of the Faculty of Agriculture from the University of Peradeniya and Asanka De Mel, the Founder of LOVI Ceylon, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and the Guests of Honour.

Agri Saviya entrepreneurship programme will transform today’s farmers into tomorrow’s Agriprenureres. A revolutionary step towards strengthening the Sri Lankan economy to build 21st-Century agricultural mindsets.

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Six collaborative partners of the Agriprenuers Forum, the Federation of Sri Lankan Local Government Authorities (FSLGA), the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the Smallholder Agribusiness Partnerships Programme and the Export Development Board, joined hands together with SLIM to build an elemental force in Sri Lanka to bridge the knowledge gap of the agriculture sector. The “Agri Saviya Marketing Asswedduma”, a promising concept, was launched early this year. Awarding scholarships is its promise made a reality to ignite the commencement of the entrepreneurship management programme.

Five Strategic partners of SLTMobitel, Keells, SDB Bank, Samaposha CBL & Sri Lanka insurance corporation joined the forces to strengthen its National rollout strategy under Mobile and Technology, Retail, Banking, CSR & Insurance sector partnerships respectively. Each strategic partner distributed agri-tool kits to the inaugural 40 student batch. SLTMobitel provided free mobile connections, SLIC facilitated Agri-insurance policies, SDB bank opened free bank accounts, Keells and CBL Samaposha conducted training camps for the first batch of students.

Elpitiya Plantations of Aitken Spence, Singer SriLanka, Hameedia, Snackings (Pvt) Ltd., Lovi and SLTMobitel were the scholarship programme partners in sponsoring 30 needy families to follow the inaugural CABE programme at the SLIM Kandy branch.

Agriculture is often seen as the backbone of the local economy even today. Despite Sri Lanka’s rapid urbanization and shift towards a service economy, the country remains largely rural, and agriculture is still seen as an industry with massive potential. In lush tropical Sri Lanka, agriculture stems from deep roots and once brought fame as the Granary of the East. Therefore, reaffirming SLIM’s commitment to strengthening the national economy and reviving local industries, the Institute introduced this latest professional qualification.

CABE is a three-month professional qualification conducted in all three languages and the course is delivered through a blended approach—onsite and online sessions depending on the nature of the module. The onsite sessions will be carried out in the Uva and Central provinces as required. Furthermore, the course consists of 11 modules, which will be delivered in the form of interactive learning sessions and practical assignments.

Agriculture is connected and affected by many swirling forces of change—weather fluctuations, scarce natural resources and volatile commodity markets and many more—than most other industries yet it is also the lifeblood of the economy. CABE offers the ideal learning experience for aspiring local entrepreneurs who have an insatiable appetite for innovation in the agricultural industry. The course covers the most important areas needed to pursue an agriculture-based venture, including Agri-Business Management, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture Marketing, Agriculture Finance, Legal Frameworks, People Management as well as Smart Agriculture. If you are an entrepreneur ready to take a leap of faith to build a thriving Agri-Business, CABE is your stepping stone towards success.

The National concept creator of Agri Saviya Marketing Asswedduma and the Project chairman of Agri Saviya Marketing Asswedduma addressing the gathering said, “Agriculture is a mirror image of the prosperity and self-sufficiency of a nation. Farmers are the backbone for sustainable livelihood, producing food for the growing population and the guardians of our biodiversity. Therefore, protecting the brand of farmers is of national importance. We believe that a fortified agriculture sector has the potential to lead the nation to the developed status as all of us wish. With the sustainable agriculture know-how gifted by our ancestors and our fertile soil, this island nation is meant to be a global leader contributing to tomorrow’s food requirements. Transforming our farmers’ commodity mindset into a 21st-Century value-added mindset, by cultivating the skill sets to compete in upstream international markets, is the need of the hour. CABE will bridge this knowledge gap by providing the foundation to build professionals in agriculture with a 21st-Century curriculum. Farmers and Agri-Business owners will be developed as Agripreneurs who will be equipped with knowledge, skills and competencies to chase Global opportunities in the industry”, Charaka Perera further acknowledged Minister Dr Seetha Armabepola’s government endorsement to incorporate Agri Saviya as a key driver in the National Agri Reforms system under the green economy of the presidential task force”

Honourable Minister Dr Seetha Arambepola addressing the gathering said “I truly commend the collaborative efforts by many stakeholders who boldly rallied towards one vision in inaugurating a transformative programme named Agri Saviya. This unification of Agri Saviya is a perfect example of national spirit brought to life by SLIM with the leadership of the Chairman of Agri Saviya and the formidable forces behind it. My ministry will be in full strength to assist the roll-out of Agri Saviya. This initiative is of extreme value as it distinguishes a priority of the country and works towards the success of Sri Lanka as a team, connecting government and private sectors. We hope to provide state support for this commendable work and we invite SLIM leadership to partner in building women entrepreneurship.”

Thilanka Abeygunwardana, the president of SLIM, being the key collaborative partner in conducting the CABE of Agri Saviya, in her address to the gathering, stated, “For over 50 years we have been Sri Lanka’s leading marketing institute, educating generations of marketers and striving towards building the economy. At a time when no one knew or understood the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses were faced with uncertainty; a time when the whole country came to a standstill, SLIM as the National Body for Marketing in Sri Lanka, initiated the ‘Restart Sri Lanka’ project to breathe fresh life into the industries of our country. This year, we have taken that project into its second phase. Irrespective of the role you play in whichever industry, people’s lifestyles have changed such as how they work, interactions with technology, their mode of thinking and many other facets of everyday life. We have to evolve and adapt to face the new challenges that we have been presented with. We have to transform into Future-Ready Sri Lanka using the knowledge economy and through the development of skills. We will continue to support and uplift the agricultural sector, empowering them to be a part of a Future-Ready Sri Lanka.”

As the national body for Marketing in Sri Lanka, SLIM has aligned itself with the theme of a ‘Future-Ready Sri Lanka’ and strives towards reviving industries across the country. With an emphasis on an industry considered to be the backbones of Sri Lanka, SLIM strives to facilitate a better future for the agricultural industry, farmers and thus the country as a whole.

Agri Saviya unveiled its refined logo with the promise of Helping the national green economy in which the 2nd phase of a curriculum-based programme will be launched soon. This 2nd phase of Agri Saviya will fuel the business and marketing knowledge of the Agriculture officers who are considered the key stakeholders in strengthening local entrepreneurs giving them wings to reach the pinnacle of their success in the agriculture-based cultivations. SLIM together with the Agri Saviya National Initiative will create a knowledge-based initiative focusses on streamlining their focus, attitudes, and orientation towards fueling the growth of the economy. The whole idea behind this concept is to encourage the establishment of innovative startups, inspire entrepreneurs to expand their ventures and help create new employment opportunities in the country.

SLIM is the National body for Marketing in Sri Lanka and has been promoting marketing excellence and elevating the status of marketing since 1970. The Institute is a member of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka (OPA), and Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL). SLIM also has received ISO 9001:2015 certification in recognition of its superior quality management system and ISO 2990:2010 for Learning Service Provider (LSP), providing non-formal education and training services.

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