One in four in SL facing food insecurity: FAO

Financially-collapsed Sri Lanka is facing a rapidly growing food security crisis with one in four people already facing food insecurity, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned on Monday.

Releasing the emergency response overview report from June–December 2022 on Sri Lanka, the FAO said that 6.2 million people facing moderate acute food insecurity and humanitarian needs in Sri Lanka continued to rise sharply in 2022 as a result of political and economic upheaval.

“Four in every ten households experienced a reduction in their incomes, and one in every two households are currently relying on negative coping mechanisms to cope with the lack of food or money to buy it,” its report highlighted.

The UN body cautioned that the supply of food in local markets has shrunk and food inflation has soared, reaching 90 per cent in July 2022.

According to the FAO, the economic crisis had severely affected national food production and supply worsening the situation.

“Challenges facing food security and agriculture, Sri Lanka is witnessing an unprecedented economic crisis, and the situation is exacerbated by political and social turmoil. Nearly 40 per cent of the population of Sri Lanka depend on agriculture as a primary source of income. The on-going multidimensional crisis is posing an enormous threat to their livelihoods and disrupting the national food system. Agricultural production is in a downward trend since mid-2021 due to the unavailability of fertilisers and other essential production inputs; livestock keepers are unable to access feed and basic veterinary supplies; and fishers are unable to access fuel for motorised boats,” the report stated.

The FAO stressed that immediate action is needed to provide farmers with quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to protect their livelihoods and feed their communities.

Responding to the crisis, the FAO plans to provide 201,148 households with a total of 10,057 tonnes of urea, 774,000 tonnes of paddy rice, unconditional cash transfers to 53,000 farming households and supply 36,000 tonnes of triple superphosphate to restore agricultural production during the upcoming 2023 Yala season to nearly 3.9 million people.

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