By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Photo from International Rice Research Institute (irri.org)

An extensive plan to advance Sri Lanka’s goals in rice self sufficiency through combined efforts of research and development projects in the country for the next five years was recently signed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the government of Sri Lanka.  

The signing was held at the IRRI in Los Baños, Laguna headquarters. It was witnessed by His Excellency President Maithripala Sirisena and IRRI’s Director General Matthew Morell.  

Signatories include Jacqueline Hughes, IRRI’s Deputy Director General for Research and Honorable Sumith Nakandala, Additional Secretary for Bilateral Affairs of the Sri Lanka Ministry.

The framework will focus on developing high-yielding and climate resilient rice varieties with multiple tolerance to both biotic and abiotic stresses, genomics-based breeding technologies, nutritious and value-added rice, capacity building and mechanization, and more.

It also plans to promote more robust seed systems, and sustainable farm management practices.

The Sri Lanka-International Rice Research Institute 5-year work plan will augment the new Sri Lanka National Plan for the Rice Sector. The plan is guided by 10 priority themes that aim to serve as the framework for a joint collaborative research for development.

Sri Lanka’s rice sector has been troubled by the different complications which involve increasing impacts of climate change, stagnation in yield growth, poor mechanization and technology adoption among its farmers.

The new framework also plans to target current issues on agricultural productivity and sustainability. It is said that Sri Lanka needs to increase its rice production by 20 percent more than its current levels by 2030 to remain self-sufficient.