Hot Chili Pepper Cultivation as a Climate Smart Approach in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka

Posted on Monday, April 17th, 2023

By Ganga Kariyawasam (Manager, Reporting and Quality Assurance of SLRCS)

Kurunegala District, Western Province, Sri Lanka – The farmers in the dry zone are highly vulnerable to the changing climate, resulting constant crop failures due to drought, intense rains, pest and disease attacks. On top of that, land degradation, collapse of minor irrigation systems, high production cost, elephant and wild animal attacks intensify the situation, resulting farmers drop out from agriculture.

Climate Resilient Integrated Water Management Project (CRIWMP) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) acting as the Civil Society Organisation of the Kurunegala District in Sri Lanka, intend to provide support to these vulnerable small scale dry zone farmers to continue farming through “Climate Smart Agriculture” (CSA); agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances adaptation and reduces Green House Gas (GHG) emission and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals (FAO, 2010), which is the best approach against climate change.

As a climate smart approach, project introduced drought resilient farming systems through crop diversification. Establishment of Hot chili pepper varieties (which is locally known as Kochchi/ Nay Miris), in commercial scale had been given as an option, due to its ability to withstand drought and pest attacks. Moreover, this perennial crop grows as a bush, require low inputs and provide a year-round yield which is an attractive feature to use as by the farmers. Yet, it is suitable not only to the changing climate, but also to cater the high demand in the present market due to its high pungency and unique flavor.

R.H.M. Pushpa Ranjanee, Ihala Thimbiriyawa, Moragollagama is a happy farmer, who became an entrepreneur through hot chili pepper cultivation. “Project provided 100 plants in 2021 with training. Then, I was able to sold 8kgs of fruit pods and received 4,800 LKR. Later, my daughter found few Facebook groups comprised of hot chili pepper cultivators. We realized that there are many requests for seeds and saplings as planting material. We were able to get orders and sold around 2,750 saplings so far. I am raising saplings for an order of 500 at the moment. I sell one sapling for 30 LKR and we were able to earn a good income only by selling saplings.”

This is an example of the ongoing process of developing climate smart farmers and entrepreneurs, improving the economic, social and environmental coherence within the farming communities. This will ultimately lead to increase income of farmers through market driven crop planning, increase the food security.