The southern coastal region of Sri Lanka is a major paddy (rice) producing area. Communities here have been experiencing salt water intrusion into their rice fields, leading to reduced yields. This has been caused largely by seawater contamination of irrigation systems. Farmers had been using saline-resistant varieties but in badly affected areas these varieties were still failing. This article focuses on work done to identify traditional rice varieties suitable for cultivation in the degraded paddies through a process of participatory research. Its objective was to increase the resilience of communities to cope with the impacts of increased climate variability in their localities. It demonstrates the importance of farmer participation in experimentation for adaptation and the efficiency of locally informed and farmer-led research. The network of relationships built up between the farmers, formal research institutions, government extension services, and a national seed conservation body will hopefully ensure continuity of support for further research by the farmers. This project underlines the importance of biodiversity for community-based adaptation (CBA). As climate change pressures mount, it will be crucial to ensure that agricultural biodiversity is not sacrificed for short-term increases in yield.
Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org
Article in: PLA 60. Guest-edited by: Hannah Reid, Mozaharul Alam, Rachel Berger, Terry Cannon and Angela Milligan.
Keywords: CBA, climate change, adaptation, participation, DRR, disaster risk reduction.
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