FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops and Shortages  - 02/05 - SRI LANKA* (9 February)

SRI LANKA* (9 February)

Over 30 000 people are reported dead, some 450 000 persons are internally displaced and 91 749 houses are destroyed as a result of the tsunami. The worst affected districts are Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Ampara, Batticaloa, Tricomalee, Mullativu, Kuchaveli and Jaffna.

The hardest hit eastern and southern coastal districts are among the large paddy growing areas in the country, accounting for one-third of the production of the main Maha cropping season. Planting of the 2005 Maha paddy crop had been completed when the tsunami arrived. Waves penetrated only 0.5 km on average, impacting only downstream parts of the main agricultural areas. But in some areas such as the Galle district, salt water moved over three kilometres inland and destroyed a large number of mango and jackfruit trees. About 5 938 hectares crops are estimated damaged completely and an additional 5 000 hectares of agricultural land ready for cultivation have been affected by salt water.

Fishing in coastal areas is the major economic activity, providing direct employment to about 250 000 people. In recent years the fishery industry has emerged as a dynamic export-oriented sector, generating substantial foreign exchange earnings. Estimates indicate that 66 percent of the fishing fleet and industrial infrastructure in coastal regions have been destroyed and 10 out of 12 main fishery harbours have been devastated, causing adverse economic effects both at local and national levels. The livestock sector suffered relatively modest losses.

WFP has provided some 11 675 tonnes of food since the advent of the disaster. Funding for FAO projects totalling 16.7 million has been approved to support the rehabilitation of Sri Lanka’s fishing industry.

The main crop in Sri Lanka currently is the main Maha rice crop, which is planted from October to December for harvest from March onwards. Maha planting coincides with the arrival of the north-east monsoon, the country’s main rainy season. Overall rainfall and growing conditions are favourable during 2004/05 Maha season in the country and a good harvest is expected.

In 2004 Sri Lanka suffered two severe consecutive droughts, especially in Anuradhapura, Kurunegala and Puttalam. Total 2005 cereal import requirement is estimated at 1.3 million tonnes.