Sri Lanka and IRRI
Rice is famed to have had a long and regal history in Sri Lanka. Its importance goes far beyond its status as a primary food source in this island nation. Synonymously, rice plays an important role in the country's cultural identity, tradition, and politics.
Sri Lanka and IRRI started collaboration in 1960 through exchange of rice varieties and training.
In 1967, an agreement between Sri Lanka and the Ford Foundation led to a two-year program between IRRI and the country’s Department of Agriculture (DOASL). Under this program, DOASL scientists underwent training at IRRI. It was renewed in 1969 and included technology transfer activities.
USAID, IRRI, and the Sri Lankan government collaborated in another project from 1978-1984 with an aim to address the rice research and development needs of the country, taking into account its agro-ecological zones. Sri Lanka’s rice research system consequently underwent restructuring.
This partnership has also been key to genetic diversity conservation. In 2000, nearly 1000 different types of rice from Sri Lanka were donated to IRRI's International Rice Genebank. Currently, the Genebank holds about 2,027 Sri Lanka rice varieties.
IRRI also provided rice research trainings to Sri Lanka scientists and extension officers. From 1964-2018, a total of 139 scholars completed their studies and 441 trainees attended short courses. This, along with support for infrastructure and facilities, helped upgrade the capability of rice scientists and significantly helped the country reach rice self-sufficiency.
In 2017, Sri Lanka and IRRI signed Memorandum of Understanding establishing an IRRI Country Office. During the same year, Sri Lanka signed the Regional Seed Sharing Agreement enabling new and better seeds to reach farmers faster.
To date, there have been a total of 43 IRRI projects (current and completed) in Sri Lanka.