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Rush and Reed Conservation and Diversification Program, Sri Lanka

Rush and reed plant species were once abundant in the wetlands of Sri Lanka and incorporated into the rice paddy fields, providing farmers with an additional resource to create household goods such as bags and mats. The influx of cheap manufactured products in the 1980s coupled with the chemical inputs advocated under the Green Revolution saw rush and reed habitats become neglected and/or degraded. Among the negative effects of this was a decrease in soil fertility as well as a loss of income streams from handicraft production. In 1999, in response to these challenges, the Committee for People’s Rights (Podujana Himikam Kamituwa), a local NGO based in Kalutara District, south-western Sri Lanka, pioneered the reintroduction of rush and reed species to household paddy fields for processing into value-added handicraft products. Since 1999, the initiative has provided training for more than 2,500 households in 11 districts in Sri Lanka; those involved in the program have seen average monthly household incomes double thanks to improved production techniques and marketing support.

Equator Initiative Case Study Series
United Nations Development Programme
Place published: 
New York
Year published: