Climate change induced impacts observed in Sri Lanka include longer than usual drought periods; increased minimum air temperature; high intensity rains; and high variability in rainfall patterns . According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sea level is predicted to rise by 20 to 60 cm by year 2050. Sea level rise associated salt water intrusion and prolonged dry spells resulting high salt accumulations are expected to have adverse impacts on rice paddy cultivation, the staple food of Sri Lanka. Recent research indicates that about 70% paddy lands in dry coastal areas are vulnerable to climate change impacts with around 100,000 hectares are affected with salinity already. In addition, thousands of hectares of irrigated paddy lands in the inland dry areas are also affected with salinity. Further, 4,000 ha of land were damaged due to the Tsunami in 2004. As such the national target to increase the paddy production from about 3 million tons in 2006 to 4.5 million tons by 2020 may not be achieved leading to a range of issues connected with livelihood and food security. To meet this climate induced challenge, a systematic approach to address soil salinity in paddy cultivation through improved varieties and soil-water management practices have been tested in a joint project by the Disaster Management Centre, Rice Research Development Institute and the United Nations Development programme in Sri Lanka. The field trials have been conducted in the Angiththamkulama in Puttlum district of Sri Lanka. Initial soil salinity level have been between 2 to 17 dS/m with compared to the optimal soil salinity for paddy of 2 to 4 dS/m . With extensive community participation and technical knowledge transfer during a three consecutive cultivation seasons trails have converted over 100 ha of saline affected paddy lands to obtain an average yield of 6 tons / ha exceeding the Sri Lankan average yield of 4 to 5 tons/ha . During this intervention farmers adopted a number soil management practices such as the use of organic materials and managing water to keep the salt levels at a tolerable level. Results of this work will be helpful to meet the soil salinity issues in many areas of Sri Lanka including the effects due to climate change in paddy cultivation.
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