In what appears to be a structural change in the Sri Lankan economy, people have taken more into agriculture from industry and services with the latter having seen the biggest exodus after the virus-related restrictions hampered
According to the latest sector-wise employment data coming out from the Census and Statistics Department, the employed population in the agriculture sector has increased notably to 29.0 percent, from 27.1 percent in the year through December 2020.
This works out to 115,138 new people who drew into agriculture during last year, when the focus shifted toward building food security and enhancing the domestic production-based economy, after the virus disrupted the
Services became the hardest hit sector of the pandemic, as it mostly requires activities with close proximity to people. As a result of the prolong restrictions on the sector, people appear to have shifted from services to agriculture, as services lost 170,000 people last year, bringing the share of employed in the services down to 44.8 percent, from 46.1 percent in 2019.
Currently, there are 2,330,266 people working in agriculture and fisheries and 3,599,322 people working in the services.
There is a greater risk in people shifting to agriculture, without a meaningful economic value addition coming out of it, as that could increase poverty.
Sri Lanka has for decades been suffering from a systematically lopsided distribution of people across three key economic sectors, as nearly 30 percent is employed in agriculture, which generates less than 10 percent of the
The so-called great revival in farming and cultivation seen across almost every sector and the back-to-back record rice harvesting seasons for two years have produced nothing, as the prices of rice are going through the roof.
The government has terribly failed to control the prices of rice, despite boasting of record Yala and Maha harvesting seasons for two consecutive years while the prices of other essentials are also on the rise.
This is reflected in the food inflation, which has been rising by 10 percent every month, from the same month in the previous year.
Meanwhile, employment in the industry sector, which showed more resilience to the pandemic than the services and rebounded faster than else, changed little during last year.
The sector employs 2,101,645 million people or 26.2 percent of the total employed people in the country, little changed from 26.9 percent in 2019.