30 May, 2024


Food Security Challenges Aligning With The Current Economic Crisis In Sri Lanka

By Pansilu Aloka Pussedeniya

Pansilu Aloka Pussedeniya

Sri Lanka has historically surpassed its South Asian neighbors in terms of socioeconomic growth and human capital. Researchers have found notable improvements in critical metrics since the end of the civil war, including the Human Development Index, literacy rates, and health-related indicators. Since gaining independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has never experienced a worse economic crisis than the one it is currently struggling with. Food, gas, gasoline, and other necessities of life are no longer affordable for the nation, and paying off its enormous foreign debt is only a distant dream. With annual food inflation hovering around 94 percent, most food prices have risen steadily since the fourth quarter of 2021, hitting a record high in August 2022, and severely reducing household spending power. Food has become unaffordable for part of the population because Sri Lanka has severely reduced agricultural productivity, exacerbated by the rising cost of petrol and necessities. The government has predicted food shortages for the next few months. Essential medicines and other medical supplies are reportedly in short supply at hospitals across the country, and regular power outages affect the quality of healthcare.

The importance of food security

Poor coping strategies threaten the destruction of livelihoods and the observed rise in violence raises protection issues. In 25 districts across the country, there are 5.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance by personal identification number. The Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan plans to assist 1.7 million of them for $47.2 million. With annual food inflation hovering around 94 percent, most food prices have risen steadily since the fourth quarter of 2021, hitting a record high in August 2022, and severely reducing household spending power.

The World Food Program estimates that 6.3 million Sri Lankans, or over 30 percent of the country’s population, are “fed” and in need of humanitarian assistance (WFP). Almost 5.3 million of them miss or reduce their meals, and at least 65,600 of them are severely food insecure. As the island nation’s crisis deepens, conditions are expected to deteriorate due to rising inflation, job losses, falling purchasing power, and serious shortages of essentials such as food, medicines, cooking gas, and petrol. Without foreign aid, the food security situation is expected to worsen, especially during the lean season from October 2022 to February 2023, which will be exacerbated by a poor harvest of staples like rice and the ongoing economic crisis.

Foods considered staples, including rice and vegetables, have doubled in price. Due to the high cost and limited availability of cooking gas, many people find kitchen fires difficult to maintain. According to WFP, rising food prices are making it harder for the population to meet their food needs. More than 60% of families are eating less, cheaper, and less nutrient-dense food, while over 6.7 million people do not eat enough, and 5.3 million limits the number of meals they eat during the day. Due to strict budgetary restrictions, the government has had to reduce its feeding programs, including school meals and fortified foods for mothers and malnourished children, which has made the situation much worse.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) asserts that intervention is necessary to boost production capacity in the agricultural sector, which employs 30% of Sri Lankans, to increase its resilience, decrease import demand in the absence of foreign exchange reserves, and stop the spread of famine. One-fourth of households said that their incomes had decreased by 50% during the previous three months and were still declining. The ability of five million individuals to engage in income-generating activities and maintain their food security in the medium to long term is projected to be impacted by their usage of livelihood mechanisms in crisis or emergencies.

Measures that have been taken by the government 

Food insecurity must be prevented and addressed globally, and the international community must recognize this as a turning point to escape tragedy. Emergency assistance, nevertheless, is not sufficient to put a stop to this catastrophe. As it examines the nutrition status and dietary gaps during this time, research undertaken by the MRI, Ministry of Health in the “before economic crisis” period from September to December 2021 offers a helpful baseline on critical components of household-level food security. targeting lower-income households and expectant moms with food assistance and cash transfer programs updated to reflect current inflation rates—food basket Outlined, maintaining the school lunch program with a focus on students – general/foster Schemes, SAM is being used in foster care programs to target children under five. promoting community kitchens through already-established, strong groups in estate and urban underpopulated regions, as well as in some rural areas, Abridged way of promoting home gardening for multi-nutrient security Resource pack is available for the development of cash management skills in estate and urban under settlement regions. breeding freshwater fish, Introducing a sustainable food and nutrition self-sufficiency paradigm at the village level Some potential solutions to the issue of food security for nutrition (emrgengy nutrition plan 2022).

How food insecurity affects country’s national security

FAO and WFP have just completed a crop and food security assessment mission and are actively monitoring the Food Security Situation in Sri Lanka (CFSAM). In close cooperation with the World Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and United Nations agencies, the Asian Development Bank is preparing an emergency aid package at the request of the Sri Lankan government. A variety of measures have to be taken in the near future to combat the escalating nutritional problem. Essential agricultural needs such as urea and other critical inputs are to be given priority, as they enhance production. Agribusiness needs to generate a significant portion of the revenue from agricultural exports to pay for essential inputs. With numerous difficulties forecast for Sri Lanka in the coming months, foreign aid, both financial and non-financial is needed to boost agricultural production, broaden employment prospects and boost labor productivity. In addition, the government promotes urban gardening, and food security awareness campaigns. Moreover, Sri Lanka’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change will continue to pose threats to food security and nutrition.

Therefore, it is necessary to implement these preventive measures and priority initiatives for Sri Lanka to overcome its current problems and become stronger as a country. Food insufficiency functions as a danger multiplier and exacerbates social tensions like poverty and inequality. Growing social instability, the breakdown of social cohesion, and rising inequality are the results of accelerating economic imperialism, resurgent nationalism, strains on the public purse, and political actions. These disparities would be emphasized by food shortages, rising poverty, and migration resulting from climate change. Together with other social undercurrents, they would heighten the danger of civil disturbance. To a greater extent, this might result in people or groups guarding their food sources from their fellow citizens. Therefore, it is very much important to prevent the food crisis in Sri Lanka, also it the responsibility of every citizen in the country.

*Pansilu Aloka Pussedeniya is an Intern (Research) at the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), the premier think tank on National Security established under the Ministry of Defence. The opinion expressed is her own and not necessarily reflective of the institute.

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Latest comments

  • 6

    UN agencies are big in the business of Disaster Capitalism.
    The WHO (World Health Org) which is funded by Big Pharmaceutical Companies sold the Covid-19 panicdemic and lots of Pfizer injections. Thsu Sri Lanka’s Health System was bankrupted with corruption and the Covid panidemic and in the end 6 million Pfizer injections were discarded. Now the UN is promoting a Green Bondscam with the Climate change story to benefit Green Tech companies in China and the West.
    So too the UNICEF, WFP and FAO are promoting the Multi-national corporate Agri-business take over of Food Security while European Union / French Corproations are looting Tuna and other valuable fisheries resources from Sri Lanka’s seas.
    Meanwhile another UN agency UNODC is securitizing and hampering fisher communities with the SL navy which works for AUKUS!
    Sri Lanka is a fertile country and if it has famine so too ,the rest of the world would face famine. Famine as Economist Amartya Sen said is a governance and policy choice — to promote neocolonialsm

    • 5

      At the root of all the Disasters – Covid-19, Famine, the Corruption Pandemic is the Corporate take over of the UN agencies and government with Hybrid Warfare and increasingly BIO WARFARE.
      In India, Farmers protested against Modi;s new Farm Laws to enable his Corporate Crony friend Adani (who is Funded by US hedgefund BlackRock which coincidentally holds the largest share of Sri Lanka’s ISB debt), and Ambani take over of Agriculture sector for 2 years – and they won. But in Sri Lanka,
      Maize seeds are being imported and grown along with the US bio-warfare Fall Army Worm (Sena Catapillar), and Coconut White flies to destroy food security! This helps the UN’s Humanitarian Disaster Capitalism – Please read Naomi Klein’s book- The Shock Doctorine

      • 4

        So the latest Biowarfare operation to stage a Famine in Sri Lanka is on – the mass deaths of livestock in the Eastern Province! While these deaths are officially blamed on “Cold Weather” this is Fake News in a post-Covid and POST-TRUTH era.
        Earlier this year in India’s Gujarat and Rajapsthan Provinces cattle died of a mysterious Monkey Pox like “Lumpy skin” disease. LIke the Fort Detrich built Fall army worm, this is part of the same Gain of Function biowar research program on humans and animals that created SARS-COV 2 later name Covid-19 virus for which Pfizer had the magical ‘mRNA’vaccine”. So, Washington-backed Ranil Rajapakse’s and the UN agencies long promoted famine in Sri Lanka is materializing as the IMF tightens it squeeze with a Green Bond Scam and Debt for Nature Swaps (DFNS), fronting the Climate catastrophe Fake news story. There is NO climate emergency in Sri Lanka AT THIS TIME!
        The mass death of cows and goats and animals in the Eastern Province that has long been a target for Divide, Rule and Colonization by the West is part of the hybrid war to colonize Lanka by staging famine and deepening the Dollar Debt trap. Phil Millers book – Keenie Meenie- the British Mercanaries who got away with War crimes is a primer on the Western Colonization project..

    • 1

      OC and all,
      Increasing life expectancy is associated with multiple factors. That is needless to argue. Western medicine have discovered new threapies and effective drugs more during the last 50 years.

      even if Our so-called alternative medicine promotions in the country boasted over their own helawedakama, the Western medicine has become the only way out to get rid of real threats in Human medical world. I dont stand against alternative medicine, becuase what the researchers have discovered is just like a drop of an ocean compared to what they have not sofar.
      I am against any kind of frauds being held in pharma industry, with that being said, but that means not that I would not commend their re discoveres in recent times. I know that ULTRA sinhala buddhagama racist such as Nalin De Silva, ultra sinhala racist of recent times, helaya is implanted with a coronary stent even if he was forced to say, that WESTERN medicine is not for him: How many were misled by the kind of hypocrites ?
      We dont need to talk much if HERD immunity was not achieved, could COVID 19 ever be controllable as of today ?

      • 1

        Aids patients live today no different to any other healthy humans.
        Down syndrome patients live longer than ever before.
        There are whole lot of genetic diseases that are defined as ” yaksha budhatha diseases” according RAJAPAKSHES forces (sorcerers and witch doctors) in our hell, are not connected with new therapies so that the patients can seek due healing processes. Rajapakshes and their men went after sorcery and witchery as no others so that stupid people would never get away with them in this life. That was a trick to tie them with invisible and reap the harvest for their political survival. That is why I believe THE HARM if meastured done by Rajaakshe dogs is multiple times more than LTTE leader and former JVP leader did to the nation. Long term impact of MAHINDA RAJAKSHE mlechcha politics destroyed this nation.
        The average people of this country should learn – Paracelsus coined the famous saying that all the things are poisons, and that the degree of toxicity is only caused by the dose.

  • 2

    Hybrid war now takes the form of Biowar and digital/cyber-war with lots of DISINFORMATION, as well as, Economic and trade disruption, and Dollar DEBT COLONIALISM as the Paris Club-IMF-Western empire implodes and turns Rogue State. 750 military bases around the world are unleashing BIOWARFARE with the US Marines and Special Forces (SOF), who are tasked with leading Biowar ops.
    Mr. Putin in Russia is doing the heavy lifting for the already colonized Global South and pushing back against the new Western Imperialism project, while China free rides with a Covid-19 and now Climate Catastrophe Green Bondage face Mask?!

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