How Sri Lankan Farmers Experience Climate Change

Waruni Karunarathne

SLYCAN Trust has been working on the ground with rural farmers in Sri Lanka to understand climate vulnerabilities in the food production cycle and along the agricultural supply and value chain. Based on our interviews with farmers in several DS divisions in the Anuradhapura and Trincomalee Districts, we have compiled a series of videos that capture some of their experiences and struggles in the face of the changing climate.   


As an island nation vulnerable to climate change, Sri Lanka is increasingly exposed to climate change impacts across many sectors. Agriculture is one of the most climate-sensitive sectors with a large dependence on reliable weather patterns and natural resources. With climate change, a whole new set of challenges is thrust upon farmers and other key stakeholders of the sector. It is vital to understand these new challenges, key enablers and multipliers, and potential solutions for individuals and communities. If farmers, the primary food producers, lack resilience and adaptive capacities, it will impact the country’s food and nutritional security, economy, sustainable development efforts, and many other aspects.


The agriculture sector generates livelihood opportunities for a significant part of Sri Lanka’s population, especially in rural areas. In the face of climate challenges and poor income, some farmers are seen leaving behind agriculture for other livelihood opportunities. Drought, excessive rains, untimely rainfall, shift of seasons, and pests and diseases have been some of the common complaints of rural farmers. ‘I feel that the six-months of the rainy season are not as before. Now, the rains have shifted by about a month or two’, says R.R. Ilangarathna, a farmer from Kalyanapura, Trincomalee District. Many farmers have come to realize that their farming patterns and methods might need to change in response to changes in weather patterns.


Looking back to traditional knowledge while incorporating agro-meteorological advisory can help to shape and localize climate change adaptation measures to face certain challenges in a sustainable manner. Some of the farmers we interviewed shed light on different knowledge systems that might help counter and reduce climate induced losses and damages. For instance, Ms. Chandra Galagoda from Kalyanapura, Trincomalee District shares a few of the agricultural practices she uses to address worm and insect attacks to the cultivation, which is in certain cases triggered by shift of seasons and climate incidents.’


By sharing a glimpse into the range of interviews we conducted with farmers, we aim to increase awareness of the vulnerabilities of primary food producers, highlight their ideas and insight, and contribute to finding localized solutions.


Please access the YouTube links below to watch the first of our interview features with farmers:


Climate change adaptation in the agriculture sector


Why do farmers leave agriculture?


Local and indigenous knowledge in climate change adaptation



These videos have been developed as part of the ongoing project “Multi-Actor Partnerships on Climate and Disaster Risk Financing and Preparedness in the Context of the InsuResilience Global Partnership,” which is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.


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