Sri Lanka

GIEWS Country Brief Sri Lanka 04-November-2014

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FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  • 2014 paddy production decreased due to prolonged dry weather
  • Cereal imports in 2014 marketing year forecast to increase
  • Rice prices remain at record levels, while those of wheat are stable
  • Overall food security situation has improved but localized food insecurity persists

2014 rice output decreased due to prolonged dry weather

Harvesting of the 2014 second season “yala” rice crop, accounting for about 35 percent of the annual production, was completed in September. The 2014 “yala” rice output is officially estimated at 1.2 million tonnes, 30 percent below last year’s record level. The sharp reduction is the result of a 29 percent contraction in area planted, following a prolonged period of dry weather at the start of the cropping season, particularly in the key north-central and eastern producing areas, as well as further crop damage due to floods in June and pest attacks. Considering the drought-reduced 2014 main season “maha”, harvested earlier in the year, the 2014 aggregate rice production is officially estimated at 3.6 million tonnes, some 22 percent lower than the 2013 record output and 12 percent below the previous five-year average.

Latest official estimates put the 2014 aggregate maize production (including the 2014 “maha” and “yala” seasons) at 247 394 tonnes, 19 percent up from the 2013 record level. This is the result of a 20 percent expansion in the total area planted, that more than compensated for a small decrease in yields, on account of the dry spell.

Planting of the 2015 main season “maha” rice and maize crop, is currently underway. Rainfall has been favourable over the main producing areas, benefitting planting operations and early crop development. Cereal imports in 2014 marketing year (January/December) forecast to increase

Imports of wheat, which is not produced domestically, are forecast to remain around last year’s level at 1.1 million tonnes. Rice imports, which are normally imported in minor quantities, are expected to increase considerably to 200 000 tonnes in 2014 from 22 900 tonnes in 2013 following the reduced rice production.

Rice prices at record levels, while those of wheat are stable

Rice prices increased marginally in October and reached record highs, about 33 percent above their year-earlier levels. The higher prices were underpinned by a sharp contraction in this year’s paddy production. By contrast, wheat flour quotations, which are normally regulated, remained generally unchanged and close to their year-earlier levels.

Overall food security situation has improved but localized food insecurity persists

The food security situation has improved since 2009 after the end of the 25-year old conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government forces in 2009. Most of the IDP camps are now closed but based on Government statistics compiled by UNHCR, still some 820 882 people are estimated to be displaced as of early 2014, living mostly with host families. The increase in rice prices, the main staple in the country, is also hampering access to food for large numbers of the low‑income population.