Green Climate Fund grants $38m for Sri Lankan smallholders

The United Nations Development Programme project will improve water infrastructure and agricultural practices.

The Green Climate Fund has granted $38 million to a United Nations Development Programme in Sri Lanka aimed at smallholder farmers.

GCF capital, along with government co-financing, will invest in improving irrigation infrastructure and agricultural practices. This includes the introduction of improved, short duration rice and other crops, simple micro-irrigation techniques and semi-mechanisation for water efficiency.

It intends to strengthen farmer organisations and agricultural value-chains, and hopes to enhance agricultural productivity by an annual $8 million.

The project will take place in the “Dry Zone”, which covers 70 percent of the island and is the main area where the rice is grown. It is dominated by small-scale farmers with land holdings of less than 2 hectares.

GCF, which was established in 2011 as part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to provide funding for projects in developing countries to help avoid climate change, has approved nine projects worth $256.6 million this year. The other projects range from energy efficiency upgrades to mitigating climate change in the Aral Sea Basin. The recipient countries include South America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Central and Southeast Asia.

The fund, which had received more than $10 billion in pledges by December 2014, is seeking more proposals this year to meet its $2.5 billion goal for approvals.

Chief financial officer Javier Manzanares will become interim executive director when Hela Cheikhrouhou steps down in September, and the board expects to have a permanent replacement by the end of the year. Cheikhrouhou was the first holder of the position and helped establish the fund’s structure and mobilise funds from 45 contributors around the world.

Additional reporting by Jordan Stutts.