HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Rome, Italy or Virtually from your home or work.
AGRI 2023

Senaka Lalith Dharmasri Amarathunga

Senaka Lalith Dharmasri Amarathunga, Speaker at Horticulture Conferences
Uva Wellassa University, Sri Lanka
Title : Assessing the effectiveness of digital farm field school extension approach for technology dissemination to tea smallholdings in Sri Lanka


The tea smallholding sector plays a dominant role in the tea industry in Sri Lanka. However, they faces many constraints such as lack of technology, scarcity of skilled labor and inputs, low productivity, high cost of production, etc. In searching viable mechanism to address the above issues, Farmer Field School (FFS) Approach was implemented as a pilot project by Tea Smallholding Development Authority (TSHDA) in Sri Lanka through the Rehabilitation of Degraded Agricultural Lands Project (RDALP) funded by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Due to COVID-19 pandemic situation, FFS programs were conducted in virtual platform and named as a Digital farmer field school (DFFS). Learning and knowledge sharing sessions of DFFS were conducted via Zoom by creating approximately 30 WhatsApp groups, with the participation of farmers, extension officers. This study aims to assess the effectiveness of the Digital Farmer Field School (DFFS) extension approach to improve the adoption rate of cultural practices toward increasing tea smallholdings’ land productivity and income generation. The stratified purposive sampling technique was performed to select 50 tea smallholders who participated in DFFS programs and another 50 farmers who have not attended the same programs (NDFFS Group) in five Grama Niladhari Divisions in the Kandy district. A cross-sectional field survey was administrated to collect primary data using a pretested survey instrument and validated its internal consistency by applying a reliability test (Cronbach alpha value of 0.8224). A scoring system, 5-point Likert scales, and indexes were developed to measure variables, and descriptive analysis, hypothesis testing, and multiple regression model was used to explain its relationship. The result shows there was a significant difference between DFFS and NDFFS tea smallholders on the ICT literacy index, the Knowledge and adoption index related to agricultural practices, the productivity of land and average monthly income from tea land. The multiple regression model is fitted significantly (P < 0.05). R square of the model expresses that 92% proportion of the variance in DFFS effectiveness is explained by ten independent variables in the model.

Accordingly, organizational assistance, facilitation conditions, effort expectancy, income generated from tea land and social factors such as age, gender, work force as family member’s education and affordability for ICT use are positively correlated with degree of effectiveness whilst experience is negatively correlated with the same. The result of study revealed that organizational assistance, effort expectancy and facilitation conditions highly influence on the effectiveness of digital farmer field school. DFFS participants have gained a considerable ICT literacy when compare with NDFFS farmers. This study proved that the DFFS approach is effectives an agricultural innovation and dissemination platform for improving farmers’ knowledge and changing their attitude for the adoption of cultivation practices towards improving tea smallholdings’ land productivity and income generation in Sri Lanka. DFFS is an information and communication technology (ICT) based digital learning environment for farmers and other stakeholders in the rural knowledge system and needed policymakers’ attention to implementing DFFS approaches to technology transferring and attract diversified farmer groups and other stakeholders in the different sectors of the Sri Lanka as well as the globe.


Dr. Lalith Amathunga Head/Department of Export Agriculture, Uva Wellassaa University of Sri Lanka, is a dedicated Agricultural Extensionist and environmentalist graduated as B.Sc. Agriculture from University Ruhuna in 1987 and he obtained his Master's degree of M.Sc. Environmental Science from the University of Colombo in 2000 specializing in the impact of climate change on tea productivity. He doctored in the field of Agricultural Extension specializing in Public-Private Partnership Extension in the tea sector from the University of Peradeniya in 2015. He worked as a Senior advisory officer at Tea Research Institute in 1991-2010 and as Senior Manager of Tea Extension at John Keells Group in 2011-2020, and currently working as a Senior Lecturer in Uva Wellassaa University of Sri Lanka.

Signup for updates

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive emails and notifications from Magnus Group. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the Safe Unsubscribe link, found at the bottom of every email