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Special Report - FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to Sri Lanka


A severe drought in 2016 and early 2017 severely impacted the 2016/17 main maha harvest with 45 percent reduction in the production of paddy crop. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) visited Sri Lanka from 12 to 29 March 2017 at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture to estimate the 2016/17 main maha paddy production, to forecast the ongoing 2017 secondary yala paddy production and to analyze household food security conditions. 

Production prospects for the 2017 secondary yala paddy crop, to be harvested during the months of July and August 2017, are also unfavourable due to limited irrigation water availability and shortage of seeds. As a consequence, the 2017 aggregate paddy output, the country's main staple food, is forecast at 2.7 million tonnes, almost 40 percent less than last year's output and 35 percent lower than the average of the previous five years. Reflecting tight market availabilities, following the sharp decrease of the 2016 secondary yala and 2016/17 main maha season outputs, retail prices of the main consumed white rice increased since September 2016, reaching record levels in December 2016 and January 2017 in most markets. The cereal import requirement for 2017 is forecast at about 1.78 million tonnes, consisting of 998 000 tonnes of wheat, 100 000 tonnes of maize and 686 000 tonnes of rice. It is expected that the required imports will be fully covered by commercial purchases. The drought has impacted food consumption scores of households in affected areas, with approximately 229 560 households (about 900 000 people) estimated as borderline food insecure. In addition, the prolonged period of drought caused loss of income and purchasing power among the most affected households, due to reduced production of paddy for sale, poor agricultural labour opportunities and increased retail prices.

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