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Sunday, 19 October 2008

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Climate Variability and Food Security

Research on best adaptative practices for Agriculture Salinity in paddy cultivation:

The UNDP (Disaster Risk Management) together with Disaster Management Centre of Sri Lanka attached to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights has taken an important initiative in developing a model mitigation site with special focus on adapting to climate change in the agricultural sector.

Among the objectives of the project are adapting to climatic change and empowerment of the community and also the introduction of farmer community adaptable methodologies for climate change. This comes at a time when food security becomes a global issue against the backdrop of global warming.

A pilot project has been launched in Puttalam where the degree of agricultural salinity is high. Prognoses have been made that prolong draughts and sea level rise would occur by 2010 with the rise of global warming. By products of this process will be the dramatic rise of the sea level and increase in temperature which would result in increase in evaporation.

The outcome of this process would the increasing level of salinity in the coastal belt and interior of the country. The aim of the project is to look into the best agricultural practices that would offer a high degree of adaptability to climatic change.

For the pilot project, traditional varieties of rice such as “Dahanala”, “ Pachchaperumal” and developed varieties of rice from the Battalagoda Rice Research and Development Institute have been tried out and succeeded with the farmers.


Programme Planing and Development Officer of UNDP’s Disaster
Risk Management
Programme, Janaka Gamage

The first phase of the two year project is aimed at testing best adaptability practices for climate change. For instance, traditional agricultural practices such as wash off, “Basnawal” (draining system) and organic practices have also been tested out.

It has been found out that those traditional varieties such as “Dahanala”, “ Pachchaperumal” are salinity resistant and that the traditional practices such as “Basnawal” ( draining systems) have been proved effective.

Research was focused on two locations in Puttlum District, Nelumwewa and Kattakaduwa. This research was implemented along with the Department of Agriculture, Rice Research Development Institute (RRDI), Batalagoda and Disaster Management Centre, Puttalam.In the research, traditional varieties of rice are being promoted in a bid to address several burning issues including impending food crises.

With the climatic change and overuse of chemical fertilizer and pesticides and weedicides, salinity has increased in more and more paddy fields making them un-cultivable.

This is particularly adversely-affecting small-scale fields and it has been found out through experience that the best methods to desalinate these fields are to go back to organic farming with traditional varieties of rice. Though a base of sixty traditional varieties has been used, four out of them were selected on the basis of availability of markets for them.

Pachchaperumal, Kaluheenati, Dahanala, Rathdal were introduced along with organic and non-organic agronomic practices in selected farmers field.

Organic farming practices like use of organic manure (cowdung, Poultry manure etc.), organic liquid fertilizer, pesticides, burned paddy husk etc. Were successfully used in the farmer field during the research.

The next step would be to introduce these tried and tested best farmer practices as a package to farmer communities to fight against salinity if and where salinity condition is developed in certain areas. Important outcome of the project is re-cultivation of Kattakaduwa field which had been left un-cultivated for years. Perhaps this would offer a ray of hope for Sri Lanka in its long march toward food security.Even people in colonies like Nelumwewa learnt to adopt it climate changes through best farmer practices.

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