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Five-year plan to achieve rice self-sufficiency

z_p02-FiveThe Agriculture Ministry and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) signed an agreement on the implementation of a five-year development plan to enhance the rice production with the intention of achieving self-sufficiency in rice.

The ceremony to sign the agreement was held at the Agriculture Ministry, under the patronage of Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, recently.

According to the Minister, the Ministry in collaboration with the IRRI, plans to enhance the nutrition level of rice, enhance the production capacity of farmers, reduce the rice production cost of farmers, formulate a programme to manage soil, water and nutrition required for paddy cultivation, improve the knowledge and skills of agriculture scientists and researchers and also provide technical assistance to farmers.

The agreement was signed by Agriculture Director General Dr. W.M.W. Weerakoon and IRRI Director General Dr. Matthew Morell.

Dr. Matthew said the agreement identifies priority areas for Sri Lanka’s agriculture and outlines broad areas for collaboration and this will 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,” said Dr. Morell.

“The agreement that has been formalized will now help the Institute coordinate its efforts in supporting Sri Lanka as it strengthens the resilience of its rice and rice-based agri-food systems against climate change,” he added.

Rice is the staple food in Sri Lanka and until recently, the country had achieved self-sufficiency in rice production. But 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,” Director General of Agriculture said.

Courtesy – Daily News

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