Quality seeds for rehabilitation of rice farming in Sri Lanka
Over 55 000 conflict-affected families in northeastern part of country to benefit
24 September 2004, Rome -- Over 55 000 conflict-affected families in the northeastern part of Sri Lanka will get access to quality rice seed through a recently launched emergency project funded by the Government of Japan, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.
The US$1.4 million project will respond to the immediate needs of small-scale farm families affected by 20 years of conflict in the country. It will also support long-term rehabilitation of certified quality rice seed production in the area.
Emergency and long-term rehabilitation
A total of 15 000 returning internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable farmers will receive packages of quality rice seed for the Maha season starting in September. Through a revolving seed scheme, a farmer receiving one bushel of quality seed and matching quantity of fertilizer returns two bushels of seed after harvest. These seeds will be forwarded to two new beneficiaries.
In addition to receiving rice seed, the farmers will be trained in modern production techniques.
"The project will contribute to improved food security for returning IDPs and other vulnerable groups," said Mazlan Jusoh, FAO Representative in Sri Lanka.
This will be achieved both through resumption of food crop production and through rehabilitation of uncultivated land.
"Through the use of quality seeds and improved techniques cultivated land as well as currently uncultivated land can yield up to its full potential," said Jusoh.
Certified seed production
Sri Lanka has a long tradition of quality seed production, including sophisticated testing and certification procedures to ensure the genetic identity and purity of seeds. However, due to the internal conflicts in the island state, there have been significant losses in both capacity and infrastructure. Rehabilitation of the rice production sector is necessary to ensure that improvements in this area are sustainable and effective long term.
Parallel to the immediate provision of seed, the FAO project will initiate rehabilitation of certified seed production with a capacity to produce enough seeds to supply about 40 000 farmers yearly.
Three government seed production farms and contract seed grower farms will be helped to restore irrigation infrastructure. In addition, scientists and seed laboratory technicians, seed inspectors, contract growers and others involved in seed production will receive training in their respective fields.
Seed testing and certification procedures will be upgraded to meet national seed certification regulations. During the two-year implementation period, 250 contract seed growers will participate in community-based seed grower schemes for the production of certified seeds.
"This enhanced access to quality seeds will help the farmers to increase their yields and to improve the quality and value of their produce. Ultimately, the project will benefit nearly 40 000 farmers and their families each year," said Jusoh.
Information Officer, FAO
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