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FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Sri Lanka, 22 June 2017

FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Sri Lanka, 22 June 2017
Jun 2017


  • A severe drought in 2016 and early 2017 severely impacted the 2016/17 maha harvest with 45 percent reduction in the production of paddy crop.
  • In addition, production prospects for the 2017 secondary yala paddy crop, to be harvested during the months of July and August 2017, are 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.
  • The heavy rains in May 2017 which caused severe flooding and landslides in southwestern parts of the country, did not ease the water supply constraints in the drought-impacted northcentral and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.
  • Prices of rice reached record highs in January 2017 and declined from February onward as the maha harvest increased supply, but in April they were still at high levels.
  • 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 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. Daily agricultural labourers and rain-fed paddy farming households were among the livelihood groups most affected. Most severely drought-impacted districts include Kurunegala, Moneragale, Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna districts.
  • 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.
  • The Mission recommends timely provision of seeds and planting equipment for the 2017/18 maha planting season from September to December; as well as targeted cash assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable to prevent negative coping strategies, such as building up unsustainable high debt levels, as well as ensuring adequate food consumption among the most vulnerable.