Agricultural economics education in Sri Lanka is done within the National University System of Sri Lanka. Universities are autonomous institutions and are funded by the government through the University Grants Commission (UGC). There are thirteen universities in Sri Lanka today. There are seven faculties of agriculture offering majoring modules in agricultural economics, agribusiness management, and plantation management with a large content of economics related courses. Other programs in faculties of agriculture include some exposure to economics related subject matter. Economics departments in all Sri Lankan Universities (except in Moratuwa, which is devoted to teach engineering) offer agricultural economics as an optional subject for economics majors.
Post Graduate institute of Agriculture, (PGIA) is the leading institution in graduate level training in agricultural economics. PGIA offers agricultural economics, agribusiness management, environmental economics and natural resource management programs leading to master's and doctoral level credentials. Other universities offer research based MPhil and PhD degree training. University of Sri Jayawardenapura has a course leading to masters degree in environmental sciences
History of agricultural economics education in the country is almost same as that of the faculty of agriculture at University of Peradeniya until mid 1970s. The establishment of the Faculty of Agriculture in 1948 at then the University of Ceylon marked the beginning of agricultural education in the country. Two out of nine faculty members; Dr. I.D.S. Weerawardena - Lecturer in Agricultural Economics, and Mr. G. I. O. M. Fernando - Lecturer in Economics were there to teach agecon related subjects.
A separate department, Agricultural Economics and Farm Management was created in 1970. Professor T. Jogaratnam was appointed as the foundation professor of agricultural economics in the country in the same year. Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management was later named as Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension. A separate department for agricultural extension was created in 1996. Agricultural Economics and Business Management to reflect the new changes in curriculum to suit the new degree program on agricultural technology and management.
During this period before 1970, economics departments in other universities, notably, Vidyalankara University - the successor to the Vidyalankara Pirivena, a seat of higher learning in pre-independent Sri Lanka- introduced agricultural economics in its undergraduate program.
The decade of 1970 marked several significant events in agecon education. Post Graduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA) was established in 1975. Establishment of three separate faculties of agriculture in northern, eastern and southern parts of the country was completed by 1980.
Graduate level training in agricultural economics in Sri Lanka rose to a new height with the establishment of Post Graduate Institute of Agriculture in 1975. Based at the University of Peradeniya, the institute was the leader in transforming the teaching and evaluation to a course-unit based system. The institute undertook a program with the assistance of the USAID and three US universities to train future agricultural teachers in Sri lanka's higher education.
Although the curricula of these universities were based on that of Peradeniya, the locations of the campuses in different regions and the research orientation of new faculty members-many of them previously from the agricultural research system- boosted the research capacity of the university system.
Proving its leading role in higher education in Sri Lanka, PGIA introduced in 1993 two new graduate programs to offer master's degrees in environmental economics and natural resource management. Both programs have gained wider recognition.
Early 1990 noted another landmark in agecon education as the newly established affiliated university colleges embraced a more management oriented curricula. In 1997, affiliated university colleges were awarded university status. Two colleges specializing in agriculture based in Northwestern Province and the Sabaragamuwa Province became respectively academic entities within the Rajarata University and Sabaragamuwa University. In 1999 Wayamba University was established as a separate academic entity and a new faculty of agriculture was established at the Rajarata University.
More on Locations and Links to academic departments offering agricultural economics related courses
History of Agricultural Education in Modern Sri Lanka: The Account of Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya