Local implementing partner for “Agroforestry on tea and coconut plantations in Sri Lanka”

Project type
Project status

Project title: Local implementing partner for “Agroforestry on tea and coconut plantations in Sri Lanka”

Location: Sri Lanka

Duration: June 2021 to June 2025

Project Background: [2-5 paragraphs]

Tea and coconut play a critical role in the Sri Lankan social, economic, and political domains. As the fourth largest tea producer in the world, Sri Lanka annually produces over 300,000 metric tonnes of tea, which is around 17% of the total need of tea users. Sri Lanka is placed fourth in the extent of coconut cultivating lands from the global agricultural land area. Many direct and indirect employment opportunities are generated in coconut and coconut-based industries.

Most of the tea plantations are situated in the Central, Sabaragamuwa and Southern provinces. The major portion of coconut holdings in Sri Lanka (nearly 75%) belong to smallholders while the rest belong to the estate sector where both private and government companies hold ownership. Even though the contribution of the smallholder sector to the total annual coconut production is 70%, it is not yet organized well and as such is managed far below optimal levels. 

Although tea and coconut industries play a major role in the Sri Lankan economy, both tea and coconut plantations face several issues including land degradation, aging plantations, adverse impacts from climate change, lack of skilled labour, lack of capacity to adopt new international standards and international competitiveness from new arrivals. 

Land degradation including fragmentation is a critical challenge that results in negative impacts on environment, economy, and human wellbeing. Therefore, improving degraded land in tea and coconut plantations is a timely action, which will give regional, national and global benefits.

The Government of Netherlands through its Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) has designed an initiative to introduce two pilot projects in degraded lands, one for coconut and one for tea. RVO is engaging the Tea Research Institute and Coconut Research Institute along with Universities in the project. IUCN Sri Lanka as the local anchor point for the RVO Netherlands will use IUCN flagship landscape management tools such as ROAM and INVEST, along with the local experience IUCN has gained during the last 30 years of working with different ecosystems. IUCN will mobilize stakeholders and will also bring in partners together. Further, IUCN will facilitate testing viable business models in the plantation sector in Sri Lanka. Overall, IUCN will play the role of bringing a new dimension to the use of agro-forestry models in tea and coconut plantations in Sri Lanka in a more feasible and a sustainable manner.  


Objectives of the project

The project aims to facilitate a public-private partnership to pilot an agroforestry approach in degraded coconut and tea plantations, with the aim to enhance environmental as well as socio-economic sustainability of the production systems at the pilot plantations. For the long term, the project aims to develop guidelines on how to sustainably manage degraded lands in tea and coconut plantations, by applying an agroforestry approach. 

The project will empower a mechanism, facilitated by a team of experts, to coordinate and create active partnerships with key actors (both direct and indirect) of the two sectors to review, upscale and institutionalize agroforestry practices in the tea and coconut plantations in Sri Lanka.

IUCN will engage in establishing and running a well-functioning local project management team, which will facilitate the dialogue between the key sectors involved in the project, with the aim of learning together and compiling lessons learned for upscaling of agroforestry practices in tea and coconut plantations in Sri Lanka. 


Expected Outputs 

Inception phase

  • A stakeholder group, which is willing to support (or stay informed about) the project. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) local team focuses on national stakeholders, RVO Netherlands focuses on international stakeholders. 
  • An agreement written and signed by the most important stakeholders (common objective, roles and responsibilities in the project). 
  • Small brochure on the project produced by RVO Netherlands
  • A project plan with activities, dialogues and planning for the implementation phase, including a clear M&E strategy and plan. 
  • A coordination and communication structure around the stakeholder group designed and discussed with the stakeholders for the duration of the project.
  • Selected coconut and tea plantations to piloting the agroforestry programme

 Implementation phase

  • A public and private partnership to implement an agroforestry in one degraded coconut, and one degraded tea plantation developed, with the aim to enhance environmental as well as socio-economic sustainability of the production systems in degraded tea and coconut plantations.

Donor:  Netherland Enterprise Agency (RVO)
Partner/s: Tea Research Institute and Coconut Research Institute  

Sri Lanka