Lanka hugely vulnerable to climate crises: Report

Sri Lanka faces a climate crisis far more severe than the just-ended political crisis, a top weather expert warned – a prediction reinforced by a separate report stating Lanka had been the second worst-affected country by extreme weather events in 2017.

The warning from Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Executive Director Hemantha Withanage also comes as Professor Mohan Munasinghe, former vice chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the earth is facing climate change-linked temperature rises double the danger limit posited by scientists.

Professor Munasinghe, who shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace, said the outcome of this year’s global climate summit, COP24, held in Portugal, was disappointing. “It will do little to halt the still-rising trajectory of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At the moment, we are heading for a 3C-plus temperature rise by 2100, which is well above the danger limit of 1.5-2C,” he said.

The IPCC 1.5 Report states that limiting global warming to 1.5C, rather than simply below 2C, could help avoid some of the worst effects of climate change and potentially reduce bad impacts triggered by changing climate.

It also made clear that the world would have to slash greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide by about 45 per cent by 2030, a target many see as unrealistic, so countries such as Sri Lanka are bound to keep bearing the brunt of extreme weather events.

Sri Lanka is ranked the second-worst affected country in relation to extreme weather events in 2017, only next to Puerto Rico, in the report, Global Climate Risk Index 2019, produced recently by the climate think-tank, German watch.

According to the report, storms and their direct implications – rainfall deluges, floods and landslides – were a major cause of damage in 2017. Of the 10 most affected countries in 2017, four were hit by tropical cyclones, with a clear link being found between climate change and record-breaking downpours in hurricanes.

The damage from the May 2017 floods and landslides is estimated at Rs. 70.2 billion

The report suggests severe tropical cyclones will increase in number with every tenth of a degree in global average temperature rise.

In the case of Sri Lanka, the disaster that was triggered by heavy rain brought about by the southwest monsoon in May 2017 caused 219 deaths with 74 other people still missing according to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Report produced by the World Bank-linked Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery grant-funding body.

While scientists are wary about saying global warming is entirely to blame for extreme weather events, the frequency and intensity of such events in Sri Lanka have clearly increased, with the May 2017 storms following a similar extreme weather event in 2016 that wreaked havoc in many parts of Sri Lanka.

Damage and losses from the floods and landslides in May 2016 topped Rs. 90 billion and damage from the May 2017 floods is estimated at Rs. 70.2 billion. Nearly five million people were affected by the May 2016 events, while that of May 2017 left eight million people in hardship. Both events left close to 10,000 houses fully damaged, and more than 100,000 partially damaged.

Environment Ministry Secretary Anura Dissanayake said the high cost of disaster management was a burden to the national economy as there was no-one to provide funds to face such disasters as happened in the case of the 20014 tsunami.

“The government should find funds for disaster management directly from the finance available for national development and for services such as education and health,” Mr. Dissanayake said.

Prof. W.L. Sumathipala, a former head of Sri Lanka’s Climate Change Secretariat, pointed out the need for carrying out proper scientific evaluation of data as factors beside global warming could contribute to extreme weather events and their consequences.

He pointed out while rainfall patterns could be altered by climate change, the resulting floods and landslides would be made worse by ad hoc, unplanned, non-scientific development that causes environmental repercussions.

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Tea Market Report : May 28-30, 2018

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Killing the goose that lays the golden eggs: Neglecting the country’s highest export earner

By Nimal Sanderatne

Tea has been Sri Lanka’s highest export earner from the latter part of the nineteenth century and is still the country’s highest domestic value added export earner.

Despite the paramount importance of tea for the economy, the seventy post independent years have been characterized by a neglect of the tea industry. Over the past seven decades the country has lost her preeminent position in global tea production and exports, though it remains among the highest producers and exporters of tea. A new resolve to enhance productivity and increase production of tea to increase exports could be of immense benefit to the economy.

High taxation in the past, threats of nationalization, nationalization of tea plantations, mismanagement of state owned plantations and the underfunding of the Tea Research Institute have hampered the tea plantations. The latest blunder was the banning of glyphosate imports that is an essential weedicide in 2015 without a scientific basis.

The bright spot in tea has been the development of smallholdings tea cultivation that now accounts for nearly 70 percent of the country’s tea production. The productivity on tea smallholdings is much higher than on the estates. Continue reading

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A future for GMOs in Sri Lanka ; Can Sri Lanka long averse to biotechnology, be fertile soil for GM agriculture?


Plant Quarantine in Katunayake

Genetically modified organisms are a big story in India. More than 90 percent of India’s cotton crop, which is one of the largest in the world, is genetically modified for pest resistance.

But, nearby Sri Lanka doesn’t have a significant presence of GM crops or GM food at all. In fact, according to available government data, there aren’t any GM crops or products being produced or sold in the island. Many scientists think that changing climatic and economic conditions could make certain GM crops are desirable in the domestic market.That does not mean there couldn’t be in the future, though. Continue reading

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World’s first Climate Change Research Station in Sri Lanka

By Raj Moorthy

Dilmah, the only Sri Lankan tea brand that has established a presence in 100 countries, is setting up the world’s first Climate Research Station at Queensberry Estate in Nawalapitiya.


New climate change research station

This was revealed by Dilmah Tea CEO and Director Dilhan Fernando during a forum organised by the Sunday Times Business Club (STBC) titled ‘Sri Lanka Inc: Challenges and Opportunities’ held at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo on Monday. (More details of the STBC event will appear next week). Continue reading

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PM’s office announces an on-line management Information System for paddy/rice

Original article

1723976083DI-P04-28-09-(Re)-kwk-1File Photo of farmers planting paddy in waterlogged fields. It has been decided to have an on-line Database System for Paddy/Rice stocks which could then be accessed easily by any official/or member of the public at any time, according to the Prime Minister’s office.

A statement issued by it said: Every year, the government makes an effort to stabilize the price of paddy/rice. But owing to non-availability of comprehensive information success is limited. Establishing a computerized digital MIS system for Paddy/Rice Sector will strengthen that effort and decision makers, relying on this Management Information System (MIS), will be able to take informed decisions as to the quantity of Paddy and Rice available in the country and the actual need to supplement by way of imports. The project will be implemented under the cooperation of several government and private institutes, led by the National Planning Department, with the guidance of the Central Programme Management Unit of the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs of which the Prime Minister is Minister. Continue reading

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New Radical Vision for Sustainable,Innovative Agriculture

30-7-2017 FT (19)

By Rizvi Zaheed

Human civilization is rapidly approaching an unprecedented threshold beyond which lies an exciting yet highly uncertain and volatile age. Many of the assumptions that have formed the basis of complex industrial societies are themselves falling under increased scrutiny. At almost every level, societies are being compelled towards introspection and a careful re-examination of the foundations upon which society rests. Across the globe, individuals, companies, communities and entire nations are seeking out new, more sustainable and more effective methods of building, powering and maintaining, their homes, offices, and cities. Continue reading

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