A webinar titled “Future Prospects of Sri Lankan Food Industry – An attempt to transcend the boundaries”, organized by the Research for Undergraduates (R4U) Club of Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Moratuwa was held on the 31st of July 2021 via Zoom. The webinar was conducted as the fourth event of the “Explorer” series organized by the current executive board of the R4U club.
The inauguration of the webinar was graced by Prof. Nalin Wickramaarachchi, Dean/Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa and Prof. Shantha Walpalage, Head/Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Moratuwa.
The webinar included a keynote speech, a panel discussion and a Q&A session conducted with the participation of reputed academics and esteemed industry personnel from the Sri Lankan food industry.
The keynote speech on “Taking Sri Lanka’s food industry to new heights via sustainable high-tech value addition” was delivered by Mr. Rizvi Zaheed, Director of Vidullanka PLC, Chairman of Oceanpick Pvt Ltd, Chairman of Sri Lanka Agripreneurs' Forum, and the former Director of Hayleys PLC and former Managing Director of Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Ltd. Mr. Zaheed expounded upon approaches that could be followed to add value to conventional export commodities of Sri Lanka, and highlighted potential unexplored markets that could be dominated by the Sri Lankan food industry.
The keynote address was followed by a speech titled “Importance of research - A perspective from R4U Club” which emphasized on the importance of collaboration between the industry and academia to expand conventional boundaries of technology, delivered by Dr. Thilini U. Ariyadasa, the Senior Treasurer of the R4U Club and Senior Lecturer of the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering.
Thereafter, a fruitful panel discussion and Q&A session on the current state and future perspectives of the Sri Lankan food industry was conducted by the following panel of experts.
- Prof. Ajith de Alwis – Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Moratuwa and Senior Professor of Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Moratuwa.
- Dr. Mahaletchumy Arujanan - Executive Director of Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre.
- Mr. Ariyaseela Wickramanayeka - Chairman at Pelwatte Dairy Industries Ltd.
- Mr. Dilhan C. Fernando – CEO of Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company PLC.
- Mrs. Nisansala Chandrasekara - Senior Research and Development Manager of Food Cluster at Ceylon Biscuits Ltd.
The webinar received an overwhelming response, and was attended by 280+ participants representing academia, industry stakeholders as well as undergraduate/postgraduate students from science, technology and engineering faculties of numerous higher education institutes in Sri Lanka.