Postharvest Management and Market Expansion Opportunities for Rice and Maize Smallholder Farmers
Postharvest Management and Market Expansion Opportunities for Rice and Maize Smallholder Farmers
Strengthening the resilience of vulnerable smallholder farmers to climate-related shocks in Sri Lanka through WFP-facilitated South-South cooperation with China


Sri Lanka is the sixth most affected country globally by extreme weather events. Recurrent droughts and sudden rains result in major losses for smallholder farmers, especially for the two main crops, rice and maize. In this scenario, smallholder farmers in Sri Lanka face multiple challenges from production to post-harvest management, which put their food security and livelihoods at risk. 


In post-harvest management, key challenges posed by inadequate technology and techniques to harvest, dry/process the rice and maize, lack of aggregation systems, and limited access to markets contribute to a vicious cycle of debt and poverty among smallholder farmers. 

Towards a Solution

In response to Sri Lanka’s requestthe World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has been working together with the Ministry of FinanceEconomy and Policy Development and the Ministry of Agriculture in Sri Lanka to implement a South-South field pilot project to address key challenges faced by smallholder farmers on the ground, with funding support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) of the People’s Republic of China. Technical support has been enabled by the WFP China Centre of Excellence (CoE) and the Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences (JAAS), with a view at enhancing the resilience and livelihoods of rice- and maize-growing smallholder farmers to cope with climate-related shocks in selected dry zones in Sri Lanka. 


By facilitating South-South and triangular Cooperation (SSTC), the project aims to address capacity gaps of Sri Lankan smallholder farmers by equipping them with innovative technology and expertise in post-harvest management from China, a key South-South partner in this field. The project also seeks to strengthen the capacity of relevant government officials in the Sri Lankan Ministry of Finance, Economy & Policy development and Ministry of Agriculture to support climate-resilient farming. Following an innovative approach, this project is the first WFP-FAO pilot initiative in SSTC in the field, and helps build the capacity of the WFP Sri Lanka ‘R5n project’.  


The project was rolled out in a phased approach: 

  • It started with a joint WFP and FAO scoping mission to Sri Lanka in July 2019. In a strong spirit of collaboration, the Rome-based agencies (RBAs) held joint consultations with national and district-level authorities to identify the host government's needs, and visited two farmer organizations in order to dialogue with smallholder farmers and identify key challenges on the ground. The joint WFP-FAO mission enabled the agencies to identify the main areas of collaboration and the way to leverage their comparative advantages to support the Government of Sri Lanka through SSTC with China.  
  • The mission was followed by a rapid assessment to identify learning needs and capacity gaps from production to post-harvest management. Key findings from the assessment confirmed that smallholder farmers had been using inefficient harvesting and drying methods and outdated tools, which impacts quality, increases post-harvest losses and lowers prices on the market. This informed the development of a project proposal with a detailed request for SSTC with China.  
  • In December 2019, ten Sri Lankan smallholder farmer leaders and government officials participated in a learning visit to China. With training and in-field demonstrations, Sri Lankan participants, hosted by JAAS, learned about China’s model of rice processing practices and equipment, basic storage, farmer’s cooperatives, value aggregation and market access support for smallholders, as well as the Chinese policy framework for rural development. 


The key learnings contribute to improving Sri Lankan grain production efficiency and yields, which concretely work towards improving the rice and maize value chain, as well as achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2 (Zero hunger). Following the visit to China, smallholder farmers and government representatives have been engaged in dialogues and workshops to share their lessons learned with others following a training of trainer approach. 

The project activities have contributed to exploring and identifying the capacity gaps from production to post-harvest management, and to addressing those gaps in rice processing practices, equipment, storage, value chain development, farmer aggregation and policy development. 

  • Currently, a technical mission of JAAS experts to Sri Lanka is being prepared. Chinese experts will deliver a series of Training of Trainers programmes (ToT) for leaders of smallholder farmer organizations and government officers. In response to COVID-19 impact, online training sessions are being developed.  
  • These representatives will then replicate the training for 1,000 farmers in two project locations, focusing on climate-resilient agriculture production practices, post-harvest management and value aggregation systems. Training and peer learning sessions will help foster a support network among smallholders to integrate the new techniques in the ongoing work in the other four districts where the WFP’s R5n Project is being implemented. 
  • By leveraging comparative advantages of WFP and FAO, the results of this pilot will inform a scale-up phase to further expand a jointly designed, WFP-FAO facilitated SSTC project. The scale-up phase can focus on additional districts and provide holistic support to smallholder farmers throughout the value chain cycle by leveraging Chinese expertise. This pilot phase will also inform future RBA collaboration in the field through joint SSTC initiatives. 

Contact Information

Ms Carola Kenngott, Coordinator for South-South Cooperation, Programme Division, World Food Programme (WFP) Ms Rohini Singarayer, Programme and Policy Consultant, WFP Bangkok Regional Bureau

Countries involved

China, Sri Lanka

Supported by

World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Government of the People's Republic of China

Implementing Entities

World Food Programme (WFP) Country Office Sri Lanka, WFP China Centre of Excellence, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) of China, the Government of Sri Lanka, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Project Status


Project Period

2019 - 2020

Primary SDG

02 - Zero Hunger

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