World Bank’s high-level visit marks milestone in advancing climate-smart agriculture in Sri Lanka’s dry zone

The Managing Director for Operations of the World Bank, Ms. Anna Bjerde and Martin Raiser, the Regional Vice-President of the World Bank for South Asia, conducted a field visit to the Climate Smart Farmer Training School in Thirappane on Sunday (29).

The purpose of their visit was to assess the progress of the Climate Smart Irrigated Agriculture Project (CSIAP), the President’s Media Division (PMD) said in a statement.
Ms. Anna Bjerde made her first visit to the country in response to a request made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe during his special meeting with the President of the World Bank, Mr. Ajay Banga.

This meeting occurred during President Wickremesinghe’s visit to the USA to attend the UN Summit. During their discussion, President Wickremesinghe requested Mr. Banga’s assistance in advancing Sri Lanka’s climate-friendly sustainable agriculture initiative. Ms. Bjerde’s visit to Sri Lanka serves as a confirmation of the World Bank’s support for this initiative, the PMD said.

The CSIAP has undertaken an ambitious initiative to establish a comprehensive Farmer Training School known as “Deshaguna Suhuru Govi Puhunu Pasala” in Mannakkulama Village, Thirappane, situated in the Anuradhapura District. This Farmer Training School will play a pivotal role in training and equipping farmers with hands-on experience in Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices and cutting-edge agricultural technologies.

This visit by Ms. Anna Bjerde and Martin Raiser, the Vice President for the South Asia Region and a delegation from the World Bank, Asia Development Bank, JICA and USAID underscores the World Bank’s and other partners’ commitment to supporting initiatives that aim to improve the agricultural sector and enhance climate resilience in Sri Lanka’s dry zone.

Following her visit to the Climate Smart Farmer Training School (FTS) in Thirappane, Ms. Anna Bjerde and the delegation of officials visited the Ambul Banana Cluster in Rajanganaya. This project supports smallholder farmer clusters in the project districts to produce high value agricultural products in order to improve the farmer household income significantly as well as to increase the export earnings of the country, the statement added.

Expressing her views at the event, Ms. Anna Bjerde, Managing Director for Operations of the World Bank, addressed the significance of a school for farmers in the region, focusing on climate-smart agriculture. She highlighted the changing weather patterns caused by climate change and how this school is equipping farmers with techniques to enhance productivity and resilience in crop production.

Ms. Bjerde also mentioned three major benefits of this project: the transition to renewable energy, particularly solar power; increased and stable livelihoods, enabling children to access education, including higher education; and diversified and sustainable crop yields, ensuring better nutrition. She expressed pride in the World Bank’s support for this project and emphasized the need for more initiatives like this to address the challenges posed by climate change, both through mitigation and adaptation efforts. She hoped that the project could be sustained building on the lessons and experiences demonstrating the positive impact on changing lives and livelihoods of farmer communities.

Farmers who had undergone training in Climate Smart Irrigated Agriculture at the Farmer Training School received certificates during this event.

Among those who attended the event were the Minister of Agriculture and Plantation Industries Mahinda Amaraweera, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, Former Minister Duminda Dissanayake, Mr. Martin Raiser, Vice President – South Asia Region, World Bank, Mr Takafumi Kadono – Country Director, ADB, Ms Chiyo Kanda – Country Manager for Maldives and Sri Lanka, World Bank, Ms Anjali Kaur – Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID, Mr. Faris Hadad – Zervos – Country Director for Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka, World Bank, Ms Sachiko Imoto – Senior Vice President, JICA and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, according to the PMD.