Sri Lanka and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) yesterday signed a comprehensive work plan for the country’s rice self-sufficiency goals through joint research for development projects over the next five years. .
IRRI Deputy Director General for Research Jacqueline Hughes and Foreign Ministry Additional Secretary for Bilateral Affairs Sumith Nakandala were the signatories.
The Sri Lanka-International Rice Research Institute Five-Year Work Plan will complement and help implement Sri Lanka’s new National Rice Sector Plan. The plan is guided by 10 priority themes that will serve as a framework for the Joint Collaborative Research for Development (R4D) pipeline projects aimed at improving the resilience and sustainability of Sri Lanka’s national rice sector.
Sri Lanka’s rice sector has been challenged by the increasing impacts of climate change; stagnant yield growth; high production and labor costs; low private sector investment; and insufficient mechanization and technology adoption among its farmers.
Sri Lanka has been hit hard by extreme weather events in recent years. In 2017, following floods and droughts in different parts of Sri Lanka, there was a 44% deficit in the amount of rice the country needs.
The new work plan will focus on the development of high-yielding and climate-resilient rice varieties with multiple tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, genomics-based breeding technologies, nutritious and value-added rice, strengthening capacity and mechanization, among others. The project promoters also have a plan to promote more robust seed systems and sustainable agricultural management practices.
“Improving the resilience and sustainability of Sri Lanka’s national rice economy through environmentally sound approaches is of the 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 remain committed to supporting their efforts to restore rice self-sufficiency and achieve food security, ”Morell said.
As of 2009, around 95 percent of Sri Lanka’s rice land had been planted with improved rice varieties. The partnership between IRRI and Sri Lanka, which dates back to the 1960s, began with activities of exchange of rice varieties and germplasm, capacity building and technology transfer.
“We saw the positive effect of our long-term research collaboration and material exchange in Sri Lanka when the country first achieved rice self-sufficiency in 2010. This plan aims to improve and leverage using what we have learned from this to unleash the full potential. rice sector in Sri Lanka and help the country regain that success once again, ”Morell said.