Multi-sectoral strategy a must to improve SL’s food security – Dr. Batagoda

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Food Security is not just the production of food.It includes nutrition, distribution, storage, pricing and affordability and food access to vulnerable communities,advisor to the President on food security, Dr. B.M.S. Batagoda told Finance Today.

Speaking on the Government’s newly launched ‘Food Security and Nutrition Programme’, he said food security cannot be ensured without overall economic development, which requires a multi-sectoral approach.

As a result, the Government has decided to provide cultivation rights to recognised private sector investors and local families for a period of two years, renewable every six months.

Additional land will be obtained from the National Livestock Development Board and other government holdings in Kantale and Moneragala.

The Government intends to establish ‘People’s shops’ in each Grama Niladhari division under the Food Security and Nutrition Programme to improve marketing opportunities for the rural poor and network from the centre. It also intends to install 2 Kw roof top solar panels in one million Samurdhi families through concessional loan schemes.

The Government also decided to begin the ‘Athwela’ Foster Parent Programme, as well as a mid-day meal programme for pre-school children. It also planned to expand the mid-day meal programme to schools with less than 100 pupils.

The Government would provide cash grants of Rs 10,000 to needy groups (61,000 selected families).Pregnant women would receive Rs 2,500 each month.

The SARVODAYA-led Community Kitchen will be expanded and the Food Bank concept will be introduced to rural areas.

Dr. Batagoda claims that the poultry and dairy sectors might grow and return to pre-pandemic levels.

“We will expand chicken and egg production to self-sufficiency and ensure raw material requirements for animal feed production,” he said.

“We will develop 140,000 cottage level semi-intensive poultry farms to improve egg and chicken meat output”, he added.

The Government opted to put 220 million fingerlings into tanks and reservoirs as part of the planned inland fisheries expansion project.

It also plans to launch a high-tech agriculture expansion initiative in collaboration with the University of Peradeniya for drip and sprinkler irrigation projects as well as solar powered water pump projects.

The Government intends to increase the availability of protein sources to rural families by encouraging the production of high protein vegetable crops.

For the 2022/23 Maha Season, the Government policy is to use 70% chemical fertiliser and 30% organic fertiliser.

It also resolved to meet the need for organic fertiliser through the private sector, using locally manufactured bio fertiliser made from Eppawala rock phosphate following Sri Lankan standards.

The Ministry of Defense is to commence the Haritha Movement from the Green Agriculture Operating Centre, which would make fertiliser, seed, planting supplies and chemicals at marketplaces enabling farmers to purchase them.

Urea is to be sold in markets across the country for about Rs 15,000 per 50 kilogram bag.

A special arrangement has been made to provide fuel quotas based on farm extent using the QR system.

The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the Indian Credit Line provide funding for the purchase of urea and MoP fertiliser.

In addition, the Government is to develop an integrated seasonal maize production initiative in the Maduru Oya right bank area.

“In collaboration with the commercial sector, we would utilise the Maduru Oya right bank region of 30,000 acres for maize farming,” Dr.Batagoda said. “We also set aside 10,000 acres for community-based maize growing – two acres for every household,” he added.

Sri Lanka ranks 68th out of 180 countries in a new global index that compares performance on child nourishing, which is estimated using measures such as child survival and well-being, such as health, education, and nutrition; sustainability, which uses greenhouse gas emissions as a proxy; and equity, which is indicated by country income gaps.

Sri Lanka also reports substantial improvement in child mortality rates, with infant mortality dropping from 9.9 to 8.5 (per 1000 live birth) in 2010 and 2015, respectively, and under five mortality dropping from 12.2 to 10.5 (per 1000 live birth).

By Ishara Gamage