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Adaptation of agricultural crop production to climate change: a policy framework for Sri Lanka


W.A. J.M. De Costa

University of Peradeniya, LK
About W.A. J.M.

Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya.

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Agriculture is one of the key sectors of the Sri Lankan economy, which contributes a significant percentage to its gross domestic product (GDP) and provides direct or indirect employment to a sizeable proportion of its population. Climate change involves long-term slow changes in climate, short-term year-to-year climatic variability and unpredictable extreme climatic events. Agriculture, especially crop production, is highly dependent on the prevailing weather conditions and therefore is highly sensitive to climate change, both short-term and long-term. Almost all General Circulation Models predict that the processes of climate change such as increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and global warming will continue well into the 21st century even if the mitigation measures to minimize the causes of climate change exert maximum effect. Therefore, it is imperative that a well-co-ordinated and sustained effort is set in motion to increase the capacity of Sri Lankan agriculture to adapt to short and long-term climate change. Adaptation involves measures to minimize the impacts of climate change. At present, implementation of climate change adaptation measures in Sri Lanka is piecemeal and lacks co-ordination and direction. Hence, a clear policy framework identifying the measures to be pursued and the roles of different stakeholders is needed for allocating and channelling the necessary financial and human resources for successful adaptation to climate change. A clear and comprehensive policy framework also becomes the basis for development of an effective road map and an action plan to achieve successful adaptation. This paper discusses a policy framework for adaptation of Sri Lankan agriculture to climate change based on the following components: (a) Quantification and forecasting of climate change; (b) Assessment of impacts and vulnerability to climate change; (c) Identification and formulation of responses to adapt to climate change; (d) Creating and strengthening the institutional framework and infrastructure to implement and monitor adaptation measures to climate change. Major advances in scientific research on components a, b and c, both locally and internationally, are briefly discussed and key policy measures to facilitate and accelerate their progress along with the relevant stakeholders are identified. Importance of allocating adequate resources to promote research on all aspects of climate change and their impacts by developing infrastructure, a critical mass of experts and an institutional framework to effectively link all stakeholders to channel the formulated adaptation measures to the farming communities at the grass-root level are emphasized.

Keywords: Adaptation, climate change impacts, policy, rice, tea, vulnerability

J.Natn.Sci.Foundation Sri Lanka 2010 38 (2):79-89

Doi: 10.4038/jnsfsr.v38i2.2032

How to Cite: De Costa, W.A.J.M., 2010. Adaptation of agricultural crop production to climate change: a policy framework for Sri Lanka. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 38(2), pp.79–89. DOI:
Published on 30 Jun 2010.
Peer Reviewed


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