Promoting traditional crop varities tolertant to floods

28 Apr 2010

Prolonged drought, high intensity rainfall and other types of extreme weather conditions such as cyclones are predicted in Sri Lanka due to climate change impacts. This will have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable communities especially the rural poor who are dependent on subsistence agriculture. Some commercial level farmers, who are capable of higher investments, prefer modern agriculture where they can cultivate high bred varieties in order to obtain a higher yield and profit. But the poor, small scale farmers who are unable to access these varieties of paddy face many hardships in carrying out their paddy cultivations. 

The UNDP, through the Disaster Risk Management Programme, initiated a project in Sathurukondan in the Batticaloa district to promote traditional crop varieties tolerant to floods and drought through the establishment of a community seed bank. In the past, the farmers of Sathurukondan were engaged in traditional organic farming and used their own cultivations as a source for seeds for their livelihood activities. However, as they now depend on high breed paddy varieties for higher profit, the farmers no longer have any local cultivar seed sources resilient to extreme weather conditions.  This project was developed to identify, collect and preserve local cultivars and traditional best practices.

The project is being implemented in Sathurukondan, Batticaloa through the Sathurukondan Farmer’s Organization. The members of this organization have shown much interest in organic farming.

Twenty female headed farming families and 10 members of the farmer organization have directly benefited from this project. The Eastern University of Sri Lanka, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Agrarian Development and the Seed Certification Service have been directly involved in this project by providing technical assistance, and human and financial contributions and also by ensuring the project’s quality and sustainability.