History of the Rice Research and Development Institute (RRDI)
Batalagoda is an ancient village which is located in Hiriyala, Hathpaththuwa in Kurunegala district. The ancient irrigation tank that provided irrigation water to the area including Batalagoda village was in dilapidated condition and it was improved by Mr. Parker, an engineer, in 1902. As a result, water supply to the area was assured enabling cultivation of paddy in the irrigation scheme continuously in both Yala and Maha seasons.
The land in which RRDI is situated at present, was owned by Mr. Hamidu Muhandiram. The government acquired this land in 1929 and offered it to the Department of Agriculture. It was kept under the control of Wariyapola farm. By this time, rice varietal development and research were being conducted at the research center located at Mahailluppallama. As there was no assured water supply to the paddy fields in Mahailluppallama,the research on rice conducted there, faced a lots of difficulties. Dr. Abeyrathne who was the Botanist in the Department of Agriculture at this period decided to shift the rice research program from Mahailluppallama to Batalagoda farm. Accordingly, Mr. Hector Weerarathne who conducted rice research at Mahailluppallama was transferred to Batalagoda and program was established at Balatagoda farm so that Mr. Weerarathne could carry out a sound research program with the assured water supply.
Honorable D.S. Senanayake understood the importance of the work that was performing at Batalagoda farm and alsp paid attention on the requirement of an uninterrupted water supply to the farm, and therefore, he ordered the Irrigation Department to issue water from Bathalagoda tank and when the water level reaches 3 feet to restrict the water supply only to the farm without releasing water to others, in order to assure irrigation water supply to the farm. The Irrigation Department follows this order even today.
In 1952, Batalagoda farm was named as Central Rice Breeding Center. It was further strengthened by attaching research stations situated at Ambalanthota, Benthota, Bombuwela, Labuduwa, Samanthurei, Paranthan and Murunkan and renamed as Rice Research and Development Institute in 1993.
In the beginning there was only the farm building and in 1982 a research building was built to facilitate scientific activities of RRDI. As well as in 2009 a training center and a hostel which has the residential capacity for 70 personals were built to transfer the generated technologies efficiently. At present a new administrative and research building complex is established in RRDI to provide an efficient service to the farmers