IRRI to help restore rice self-sufficiency in Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan Ministry of Agriculture and the Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) recently signed an agreement to begin restoring the country’s rice self-sufficiency status.
The agreement will identify priority areas for Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector and outlines broad areas for collaboration.
This will, in turn, guide the planning and implementation of strategic initiatives in the country to re-invigorate Sri Lanka’s rice sector and support the government in achieving their key goal of self-sufficiency in rice.
“Sri Lanka’s drive to restore rice self-sufficiency aligns with our goal in ensuring food and nutrition security in the region. The Heads of Agreement that has been formalized now will help the Institute coordinate its efforts in supporting the Government of Sri Lanka as it strengthens the resilience of its rice and rice-based agri-food systems against climate change,” IRRI Director General Matthew Morell said.
Rice is the staple food in Sri Lanka and, until recently, the country had achieved self-sufficiency in rice production.
In 2017, Sri Lanka was forced to import 700,000 tons of rice as the country experienced untimely flooding and its worst drought after 37 years.
These recent challenges highlight the requirement for innovative solutions and partnerships to maintain Sri Lanka’s rice self-sufficiency.
“That we had to import additional thousands of tons of rice in 2017 due to extreme climatic conditions reminded us of the urgent need to identify key areas we should act upon to ensure that we are better prepared in the event that catastrophes strike the country again,” WMW Weerakoon, Director General of Sri Lanka’s Department of Agriculture, said.