ASIA – The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has announces a joint partnership with the government of Sri Lanka to enhance research and investments in the country’s rice sector.
The two will collaboratively work on a plan that entails development projects while enabling Sri Lanka achieve its rice self-sufficiency goals.
The programme will focus on developing high-yielding and climate resilient rice varieties with multiple tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, genomics-based breeding technologies, nutritious and value-added rice, capacity building and mechanization.
It will also play a critical role in promoting more robust seed systems, and sustainable farm management practices.
The signatories of the agreement were Jacqueline Hughes, IRRI’s Deputy Director General for Research and Honorable Sumith Nakandala, Additional Secretary for Bilateral Affairs of the Sri Lanka Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Set to be implemented over a five-year period, the plan will be an initial stage in achieving the new Sri Lanka National Plan for the Rice Sector.
It targets to address the challenges faced in the sector and the issues to do with agricultural productivity and sustainability.
Improving the resilience and sustainability of Sri Lanka’s national rice economy through environmentally sustainable approaches is of utmost importance to address the complex challenges of population growth, agricultural production, and climate change in Sri Lanka.
We are honored to have Sri Lanka’s continued trust and we remain committed to support their efforts to restore rice self-sufficiency and attain food security.IRRI’S DIRECTOR GENERAL MATTHEW MORELL
According to President Maithripala Sirisena, the move is geared towards enhancing socio-economic development driven by agriculture as well as promote Sri Lanka’s rice export potential.
Sri Lanka’s capability in rice production is impeded by increasing impacts of climate change; stagnation in yield growth; high production and labor costs; low private sector investment; and poor mechanization and technology adoption among its farmers.
Factors such as drought and floods led to a 44% deficit in rice needed by the country in 2017, something that saw 700,000 metric tonnes of rice imported that year.
Despite of climate change, Sri Lanka’s economy slightly grew by 3.9% in 2018 on the back of a recovery in the agriculture and services sectors.
According to IRRI, around 95% of Sri Lanka’s rice land had been planted with improved rice varieties by 2009.