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Drought adaptation practices and profits in Sri Lanka’s rice sector: what is the missing link?

FAO Agricultural Development Economics Policy Brief 22













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    The challenge of making climate adaptation profitable for farmers – Evidence from Sri Lanka’s rice sector 2021
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    Increased incidences of drought and water scarcity due to climate change is an important challenge facing Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector. Identifying farm practices that can reduce its adverse impacts on agricultural production and farmers’ livelihoods is a key policy objective in Sri Lanka. This paper makes use of household survey data collected in Anurādhapura District to evaluate the impacts of 11 drought adaptation practices adopted by farmers in the district. The impacts of the practices are estimated simultaneously along two dimensions: 1) impact on sensitivity to water stress (measured in terms of the probability of experiencing crop loss due to wilting) and 2) impact on household livelihood (measured in terms of total value of crops harvested and total gross household income). After accounting for a wide range of confounding factors, five practices are found to be associated with a reduced sensitivity to water stress. However, only two of these are simultaneously associated with a higher gross value of crops harvested, while none is associated with significant differences in household income relative to non-adopters. The reasons for this vary by practice, but are linked to opportunity costs of household labour and market weaknesses for crops other than rice. Making climate adaptation practices profitable is a key challenge faced by policy-makers and will require a holistic research and extension approach that is bundled with complementary support to market institutions, such as appropriate mechanization services, value chain support for other field crops and input supply systems.
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    The status of water use efficiency and productivity with a focus on paddy rice in Sri Lanka 2023
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    Global water demand is likely to grow in the next 20 to 30 years due to agriculture intensification, population growth, urbanization, and climate change. In Sri Lanka, one-third of the rural population depends on agriculture. Rice is the national staple food which is cultivated twice a year on more than half a million hectares of land under a range of physical and environmental conditions. Despite being self-sufficient in rice production, Sri Lanka has low levels of water productivity and water use efficiency in paddies. Furthermore, its water and food security is extremely vulnerable to climate change. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been active to increase the understanding of the status of water use efficiency and water productivity in Sri Lanka through the project “Efficient Agricultural Water Use and Management Enhancement in Paddy Fields”, funded by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). The project objective is to identify limits and potentials of paddy rice production at national level. The project findings presented in this report are a basis for assisting the country with the evaluation of the status of water use efficiency and water productivity of paddy fields, providing technical and policy support to enhance water resources management in Sri Lanka.
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    Climate change impacts on crops in Sri Lanka 2021
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    Agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors of Sri Lanka and is key to the livelihoodof its population. As agriculture is one of the sectors most vulnerable to climate change, a thorough understanding of its impact is critical for formulating informed and effective adaptation strategies. Climate change challenges agriculture in many ways and affects – directly or indirectly – the economy, productivity, employment and food security. Assessing the impacts of climate change on crops is fundamental for elaborating evidence-based adaptation policies and strategies, guaranteeing sustainable pathways towards intensification and adopting climate-smart agricultural practices. This report presents insights about future climate change impacts on six crops (rice, maize, green gram, big onion, chilli and potato), selected according to a wide range of criteria: contribution to gross domestic product, relevance to food security and role as staple food, importance for farming systems, social impact, effect on employment, role as animal feed, consumer preferences, contribution to the export market, climatic vulnerability/resilience, market prices and price fluctuations, and farming input requirements.

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