State Universities introduce a Strategy to resurrect agri-food sector
Strategy for the Restoration and Rebuilding of the Agri-Food Sector of Sri Lanka has been devised by the members of the Faculties of Agriculture of the State Universities of Sri Lanka includes two sections of activities.
The proposal addresses the present food crisis by identifying immediate actions to address the most pressing needs of the current moment and also identifies actions requiring immediate attention that if unaddressed can exacerbate the crisis in the long-term.
This strategic plan of action for protecting the Agri-Food Sector was presented to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe through a letter dated 15 June 2022 and signed by the Deans of all Faculties of Agriculture.
The action plan is designed to address the two objectives of ensuring food and nutrition security and of protecting and sustaining livelihoods and employment in the agri-food sector. It focuses on the entire food system considering all economic factors and priority sub-sectors in the agriculture value/supply chains.
The prevailing situation has brought to the forefront serious concerns, especially relating to increases in food prices and shortages in food. Food inflation in Sri Lanka during May 2022 (year-on-year basis) has stood at an all-time high of 57.4%.
The recent appeal from the United Nations (UN) to the global community for $ 47 million in humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka to provide lifesaving assistance to 1.7 million people indicates, to some extent, the extent of the crisis.
It is estimated that 4.9, 3.5 and 2.4 million people are in need of food security, agriculture and livelihood, and nutrition, respectively (UN, 2022).
The problems confronted by society today are a result of a lack of a consistent long-term policy and action programs for agriculture, which could have prevented a crisis of this nature from occurring.
Such a policy must be developed and must include mechanisms to address future crisis situations by effectively using knowledge, other resources, and institutional structures (state and others) the plan of action indicated.
It must use consultative processes in a holistic manner that ensures that a system to address pressing issues, over the long term, in a sustained manner, is developed in which relevant institutions and bodies are represented with nominees identified through proper channels of communication.
The Faculties of Agriculture are committed to addressing the problems faced by the people of this country and will gladly extend support to any follow up actions of the State in implementing this plan.