ECONOMYNEXT – President Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for a national plan to ensure food security and nutrition in Sri Lanka with the prices rising steeply putting food out of reach of the poor.
Speaking at an event in Colombo on Tuesday September 13, Wickremesinghe said agriculture should be made a foreign exchange earning sector by enhancing production and competitiveness through modernisation.
The president was speaking at the official launch of a ‘multi-sector combined mechanism for empowering rural economic revitalisation centers’ to ensure food security and nutrition.
Sri Lanka needs to work collectively to solve the food issue in the face of the global food crisis and all stakeholders should join hands with the government’s new programme to ensure food security and nutrition, he said.
Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned Sri Lankan are going hungry due to unaffordable food, after inflation hit 60 percent up to August and food prices spiked over 90 percent after the currency collapsed.
The FAO and WFP estimate 6.3 million Sri Lankans are facing moderate to severe acute food insecurity.
The organisations expect the situation to worsen mainly during October 2022 to February 2023 if immediate livelihood and life-saving assistance is not provided.
In his speech at Tuesday’s event, the president said a proportion of the country’s population has been deprived of food while the middle class has lost their income and Sri Lanka will have to face the same situation which has been aggravated by the global food crisis,next year as well.
“Due to the Ukrainian war, we don’t get the flour supplies while the floods in Pakistan have destroyed their farming lands. The rise of the food items in the world market due to the shortage of food affects the smaller countries such as Sri Lanka,” a statement from the president’s office quoted him as saying.
“With this situation, India has brought food export to a close while China too has reduced. This situation would not come to an end by December but could last for two years. Thus the country would have to face a food crisis. Even the fuel price could rise in the winter.
“Food security should be guaranteed to get rid of this economic crisis and the same food should be produced locally. The food security program was initiated in order to achieve this end. The government has found USD 200 million for the provision of fertilizer for the Maha season cultivation which has already initiated. Another sum of USD 20 million should be found to cater the fullest requirement (sp),” the statement quoted him as saying. (Colombo/Sep14/2022)