Thursday, December 7, 2023

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FAO scales up emergency and resilience interventions in Sri Lanka

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations is set to scale up its emergency and resilience interventions in Sri Lanka given the current unprecedented economic crisis in the country.

The FAO has assured President Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that it will assist Sri Lanka in overcoming a possible food crisis.

The UN organization has given its word it will seek international assistance to address the food crisis the country may face in the near future.

“Sri Lanka’s immediate priority is to ensure that all citizens are provided with three meals a day,” he said.

In a prompt action towards this end, the UN food agency has already devised a food crisis response plan for Sri Lanka amidst threats of a food shortage in the country

This man made food crisis has been triggered by stupid shortsighted policies including the ban on chemical fertilizer imports and blunt economic tools proposed by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was caught up in dead ropes of nutty advisors.

The response of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations came after President Wickremasinghe had warned of a food crisis in the island nation due to the ongoing economic crisis..

In its recent overview for the period of June to December 2022, the organisation said it plans to provide 201,148 households with a total of 10,057 tons of urea for paddy farming while providing another 53,000 farming households with unconditional cash transfers of $ 84 each.

In addition to this, the FAO is also set to provide 997,000 paddy farming households with 36,000 tons of triple superphosphate for the upcoming 2023 Yala season.

The organisation will also support fishing households by providing cash transfers of $ 141 each allowing the families to meet their immediate food security needs.

The FAO will also support communities by helping them set up 2,500 backyard gardens and facilitating capacity-building activities on improved nutritional and dietary practices, to enhance food production and nutrition at the household level.

The FAO in its report said humanitarian needs in Sri Lanka have continued to rise sharply as a result of political and economic upheaval in the country.

“Nearly 40% of the population of Sri Lanka depend on agriculture as a primary source of income.

The ongoing multidimensional crisis is posing an enormous threat to their livelihoods and disrupting the national food system,” it said, adding that agricultural production is in a downward trend since mid-2021.

This crisis made by the previous Rajapaksa regime was due to the unavailability of fertilizers and other essential production inputs while livestock keepers are unable to access feed and basic veterinary supplies; and fishers are unable to access fuel for motorized boats.

“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.

The window of opportunity to support Sri Lankan farmers and their communities is narrowly time-bound.

“Immediate action to provide farmers with quality seeds, fertilisers and pesticides will enable them to protect their livelihoods and feed their communities.

It is also critical to provide the most vulnerable farmers, livestock keepers and fishers with cash assistance to enable them to restore their productive assets and fast-track their recovery,” it noted.

The FAO has distributed 2,381 tons of urea to 47,619 farming households while providing unconditional cash transfers to 15,021 households disbursing a total of approximately $ 1.4 million.

The beneficiaries included vulnerable green gram farmers and fishers in the poorest areas of Ampara, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Batticaloa, Hambantota, Jana, Kilinochchi, Matale, Monaragala, Mullaitivu, Polonnaruwa, Puttalam and Trincomalee, it said.

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