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FEATURE: Sri Lanka’s urban agriculture and forestry in pictures

A new report from the RUAF Foundation and CDKN looks at the way in which urban agriculture and forestry has been integrated into climate change action plans in the Western Province, Sri Lanka. The below images take us through the journey of Western Province’s adaptation plans.

With close to 6 million inhabitants, it is the most urbanised province in the county and is home to around a quarter of Sri Lankans, yet it makes up only 5% of the country’s land area, posing huge strains on the environment from increased vehicle traffic, commercial industry, food transportation and storage, and construction; all major sources of green house gas (GHG) emissions.

Flood-related disasters are projected to increase, as will economic and social vulnerability to the effects of climate change. Food production in the province is not sufficient, and importing food from other areas of the country is threatened by negative climate impacts on both agricultural production and transport. At the same time, cultivable land, often located in low-lying areas, is being abandoned or converted to residential and commercial uses.

Images from field visits to Western Province, Sri Lanka

New low-cost climate change adaptation strategies, such as rehabilitating and reconnecting productive green spaces throughout the city have been adopted in Western Province. By reducing surface flows and enhancing infiltration, this strategy aids in storm water management, reduces flood risks and increases urban food production.

Two promising urban agriculture models and pilot projects were selected to showcase the potential impacts that urban and peri-urban agriculture may have on climate change adaptation and mitigation:

i) the productive rehabilitation of abandoned paddy lands with more salt-resistant and local varieties of paddy (which are high in demand and fetch good market prices), alongside the cultivation of the selected vegetables in raised bunds that generate additional income. The results were:

  • 43 acres (17.4 ha) of paddy fields have been put into cultivation, including 13 acres (5.2 ha) of abandoned fields, all located in medium- to high-risk flood zones that have been abandoned for more than 20 years.
  • the farmers received an increased average income through the sale of vegetables produced in the paddy fields

ii) intensification of home gardening, coupled with promotion of rainwater harvesting and organic waste composting. Some of the results of the project included:

  • 150 households had access to improved service and market suppliers and outlets.
  • Six plant nurseries were set up that provided over 6,000 seedlings to the project beneficiaries and other farmers.
  • The nursery producers earned on average Rs 16,250 from their business in the period January-March 2014

To read more about this RUAF and CDKN project, read the full background paper titles Integrating urban agriculture and forestry into climate change action plans; Lessons from Wester Province, Sri Lanka and Rosaria, Argentina.

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