The World Bank Board of Directors last week had approved a $125 million credit for Sri Lanka to improve the climate resilience and productivity of agriculture for more than 470,000 small farmers in six Provinces in the dry zone of the country. The Provinces selected are those that are most exposed to climate impacts.
Sri Lanka is particularly vulnerable to climate-related natural disasters such as floods and droughts. The agriculture sector, which contributes approximately 7.7% to the country’s economy and employs 27% of the population – more than 38% of whom are women – is especially affected.
“Innovation, including the introduction of improved crop varieties, cropping patterns, water resources management, amongst others, can help farmers adapt to changing climate and improve their incomes and livelihoods,” said World Bank County Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough,.
“The project will ensure that all farmers get adequate access to training and research. Currently, only 10% of women benefit, and this project will help bridge this gap and improve productivity of both men and women working in agriculture.”
This project will support smallholder farmers living in climate ‘hotspot’ areas to increase their access to irrigation and management of water resources, in conjunction with support to enable farmers to adopt climate smart technologies, resulting in increased agricultural productivity and improved access to markets. The project will emphasise working through farmer groups, including for irrigation water management and will bring in the private sector to enable increased commercialisation of smallholder farming.
“This project will build on Sri Lanka’s long history of water management for agricultural production,” said World Bank Senior Rural Development Specialist Seenithamby Manoharan. “The goal is to improve agricultural productivity and climate resilience, working in close coordination with several government and non-government organisations and private sector, including community groups and beneficiaries.”
The new Climate Smart Irrigated Agriculture Project will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development, Irrigation and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources along with the six Provincial Councils participating in the project.
The total project cost is $140 million, including a $125 million credit from the International Development Association, with a $10 million contribution from the Government, and a $5 million contribution from the project beneficiaries.