Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Path to Achieving Sustainable Food Security in Sri Lanka: Experience from the rice sector

An IRRI Seminar 

By Dr. Buddi Marambe
Professor of Weed Science
Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya,
Sri Lanka

31 March 2016
1:15-2:15 p.m.
Havener Auditorium


The slow but steady population growth and the changing consumption patterns in Sri Lanka are foreseen to result in a growing demand for food in the future. Limited and diminishing natural resources, such as land and water; poverty; food price volatility; and climate change will affect the efforts of Sri Lanka for food security. Ensuring food security (including nutritional security) is a key objective in the country’s development agenda, and self-sufficiency in rice production has been the major strategy of agricultural policy since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. The rice sector has shown an impressive growth over the years and Sri Lanka has produced excess rice annually since 2010, despite the variability and change in climate, mainly owing to the long-term investments on research and development (e.g., adoption of high-yielding and pest- and disease-resistant rice varieties, and improved agronomic packages), the expansion of cultivated extent, and changes in government policies such as on fertilizer subsidies to paddy farmers. The per capita consumption of rice has increased from 104 kg in 2005 to 115 kg in 2014, whereas that of wheat flour has decreased from 48 kg (2005) to 27 kg (2014). The use of agrochemicals has contributed significantly to the enhanced productivity and total production of rice in Sri Lanka. However, their overuse and misuse have drawn strong objections from society in the recent past, especially due to the progression of non-communicable diseases among the farming community. This resulted in a government ban on importation as well as restricted use of several pesticides and policy changes in fertilizer subsidy. Enhanced educational opportunities and effective food production strategies that identify close linkages between food security and human health are suggested as major measures to achieve sustainable food security in Sri Lanka.

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