Sri Lankan PM says steps will be taken to ease food crisis in country

Amid the unprecedented economic turmoil in the country, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Friday that steps would be taken to ease the food crisis in the island nation.

Addressing a meeting of the Food Security Committee, Wickremesinghe said around four to five million people will be directly affected by the food crisis in Sri Lanka and measures will be taken to contain it, the Daily newspaper reported. Mirror.

MPs will support food safety programs in 225 divisions, he added.

He ordered the formation of a committee under the leadership of parliamentarian Nimal Lansa to review the mitigation measures and demanded the preparation of the strategy within two weeks.

Wickremesinghe ordered officials to prioritize the fishing community in terms of providing food, petrol and fuel.

Special attention was given to the food security of children’s homes, retirement homes and homes for the disabled, including the need to formulate a long-term plan for a modern agricultural system for the creation of a competitive market.

Since March this year, Sri Lanka, a former upper-middle-income country, has been in the throes of an economic crisis not seen since the country’s independence.

Violent protests sparked political unrest that led to the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, from the post of prime minister and the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the country’s prime minister in May.

In May, food inflation stood at 57.4%, while shortages of essential food items, as well as fuel for cooking, transport and industry, remain widespread, with daily power cuts.

The economy is preparing for a sharp contraction due to the unavailability of basic inputs for production, an 80% depreciation of the currency since March 2022, coupled with a lack of foreign exchange reserves and the non- compliance by the country with its international debt obligations.

The economic crisis has particularly affected food security, agriculture, livelihoods and access to health services. Food production in the last harvest season was 40-50% lower than last year, and the current agricultural season is at risk, with shortages of seeds, fertilizer, fuel and credit.

Sri Lanka is one of the few countries named by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that is expected to go without food due to the global food shortage expected this year.

A total of 22% of Sri Lanka’s population, or 4.9 million people, are currently in need of food aid, a senior UN official said.

The latest surveys reveal that 86% of households use at least one coping mechanism such as reducing food intake, including skipping meals.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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