A severe drought followed by heavy rainfalls in Sri Lanka has hit large swaths of cropping areas, threatening the food security of some 900,000 people, according to a report published today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
According to the joint Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission, drought conditions in 2016 and early 2017 led to widespread crop failures, in particular for rice paddy – the country’s staple food. Total paddy production in 2017 is forecast at 2.7 million tonnes, almost 40 percent less than the last year’s output and 35 percent lower than the average of the previous five years.
Other crops, including various pulses, chillies and onion, which rely mainly on rainwater, were also heavily damaged by the dry weather.
The situation was exacerbated by subsequent heavy rainfalls in May. Floods and landslides in the south-western parts of the country caused deaths, large population displacements and damage to infrastructure. The rains did not ease the water supply constraints in the drought-impacted north-central and eastern parts of the country.