Senior Rural Development Specialist for the Agriculture Global Practice at World Bank Colombo, S. Manoharan told the Business Observer, the project report after Cabinet approval, will be reviewed by the World Bank Board in September this year. “I hope we will start the project by the end of this year-and we will work in 11 districts starting from the North to the South,” he said.
The districts earmarked are the mostly affected by unfortunate weather conditions – by both floods and drought, according to Manoharan who is the key negotiator of this project. In Sri Lanka, he said, the farming community is yet to understand the challenges of climate change conditions. In most areas farmers either miss crop seasons due to unexpected weather or they get too much of water at the time they begin their farming activities. This affects the food production chain badly. Therefore, farm practices need to be adopted as per the climatic conditions and availability of natural resources, mainly water.
“We will introduce participatory water management system for these affected areas – and we understand about 50 percent of the farmers wants to get into the climate smart agriculture system.With this project we also want to ensure they have proper marketing plans, technology and storing facilities for the harvest and to ensure they become an important part of the food supply chain,” he said, adding that several other countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Africa have introduced similar projects in their countries. “But our effort is to introduce a unique, home-grown solution for our farmers and communities,” he said. The project proposal also lists initiatives such as rain water harvesting and diverting flood water into areas where there is no water. “We have submitted the cabinet paper through the lead Ministry. Hopefully, it will be approved this Tuesday.”
“Once it is approved, we will have negotiations with government organisations and the relevant bodies to set out an implementation plan. Everything will be done with the farmers and with the support of provincial councils, the central government and private sector institutions,” Manoharan said, adding that “it will be a breakthrough of our agricultural sector.”