February 10, Colombo (LNW): In response to the rising interest of the country’s youth in agriculture driven by smart technology, Minister of Irrigation, Wildlife, and Forest Conservation Pavithra Wanniarachchi has sought financial and technical support from the World Bank. The Minister made this request during discussions with World Bank representatives about the progress of a multi-phase climate mitigation program aimed at reducing climate impacts.
The special discussion, held at the Irrigation Ministry, involved Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Irrigation State Minister Shasheendra Rajapaksa, and representatives from the World Bank, including South Asia Regional Director for Sustainable Development Dina Umali-Deininger and Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Practice Manager Abhas Jha.
Minister Wanniarachchi highlighted the increasing trend of young people leaving the country for foreign jobs and emphasized the need for basic capital and proper guidance to channel the youth toward agriculture, particularly in areas like polytunnel greenhouses and smart technology-driven farming.
Cultivation in polytunnel greenhouses has gained popularity among the youth in the Mahaweli region, and efforts are underway to enhance and expand this practice. The Minister requested World Bank support for the establishment of smart technical agriculture alongside irrigation development.
During the discussion, World Bank representatives urged the acceleration of the multi-phase climate mitigation program and emphasized the need for a strategic plan to swiftly achieve project objectives. Both parties agreed to award and complete contracts for projects worth up to US$ 51 million before May 31, prioritizing economically effective initiatives.
The discussion also focused on the implementation and timely completion of the climate mitigation program within specified target dates. Irrigation Ministry Secretary Saman Darshana Padikorala, Project Director Bandula Sirimal, and other officials were present during the meeting.
The multi-phase climate mitigation program, initiated in 2021 and implemented in three phases, aims to address climate impacts. The total cost of the project is US$ 434 million, with the World Bank contributing US$ 92 million for the first phase, set to be completed in 2026. The primary goal of the first phase is to increase the number of people benefiting from improved weather and flood early warning systems.