With growing fears of a severe food shortage coupled with price inflation, the government has decided to establish a multi-sectoral integrated mechanism for food security and nutrition at the National Food Security and Nutrition Council for the next two-year period.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday sought the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers to establish the multi-sectoral integrated mechanism for food security and nutrition at the National Food Security and Nutrition Council and Provincial District, Divisional and Grama Niladhari Division levels to implement the food security programmes efficiently and effectively.
The Department of Government Information highlighted that food security is one the most challenging issues faced by the country in the wake of the economic crisis. Food security concerns have been exacerbated due to the decline in domestic agricultural production as a result of the short-lived agrochemical import ban and the rise in international prices.
“Under this situation, a severe food shortage and price inflation can be expected in the future. As
a result, food security will further deteriorate. Access to essential commodities has been further complicated by rising unemployment and the huge impact on household incomes in the wake of the current economic crisis. The capacity to purchase imported supplies has been limited due to the depreciation of the local rupee and as a result, the prices of food may increase further,” it cautioned.
Therefore, the government has designed short-term national programmes for the next two years to ensure food security and nutrition. The new mechanism is expected to coordinate all of these programmes.
According to the World Food Programme, 33 percent of the country’s population or 7.15 million people are estimated to be consuming insufficient food below the daily minimum nutritional requirement at present.
WFP Regional Director for APAC reaffirms commitment to Sri Lanka
Amid an unprecedented economic crisis that has left millions of Sri Lankans food insecure, United Nations World
John Aylieff with beneficiaries in Kolonnawa where he discussed the economic crisis and its impact on the community
Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific John Aylieff concluded a two-day visit to Sri Lanka where WFP is stepping up its emergency operations.
The latest WFP surveys show that hunger is rising sharply in Sri Lanka, where nearly half of the households interviewed were facing challenges in accessing food, amid income losses, record levels of food price inflation, disruptions to the food supply chain and severe shortages of basic commodities including fuel.
“Millions of the poorest Sri Lankans can no longer afford an adequate diet and we fear the situation may get worse in the weeks to come,” said Aylieff.
“This makes WFP’s response extremely critical. Our priority is to reach families with life-saving food and nutrition assistance, with children and women at the heart of our response.”
During his discussion with a group of recipients of WFP’s assistance, Aylieff heard first-hand accounts of how the deepening food crisis is impacting them. Four out of five households are limiting portion sizes and skipping meals to cope, a significant number of urban households among them.
Aylieff met Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Sabry, and discussed the immediate priorities in addressing food insecurity in Sri Lanka. He also met the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, R.M.P. Ratnayake.
In a meeting with the Ambassador of Korea to Sri Lanka, Santhush Woonjin JEONG, Aylieff expressed gratitude to the Republic of Korea, particularly in assisting smallholder farmers and strengthening food systems.
He also met the High Commissioner of Australia to Sri Lanka, Paul Stephens, and thanked him for Australia’s timely donation that helped WFP start its emergency response operation in June.
WFP aims to reach 3.4 million people with food, cash or vouchers while supporting national programmes, including school meals and Thriposha, the latter providing fortified food to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young children.