Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: FAO support to enhance rice production in conflict and flood affected districts

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Sri Lanka, 4 Sep 2008 -- Colombo - In response to the Sri Lankan government's request for assistance in the context of soaring food prices, FAO has approved the project "Input supply to vulnerable populations under Initiative on Soaring Food Prices" and allocated US$ 500 000 to finance it.

The project will provide immediate support to enhance rice production in conflict and flood affected districts through the provision of agricultural inputs and small implements.

Six hundred metric tons of certified seed paddy will be distributed to the target beneficiary families in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture in Batticaloa, Ampara, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura Districts for 2008 'Maha' season.

"From this initiative about 6 000 ha of former paddy lands will be renovated and overall rice production of these 4 districts will be increased," says Patrick Evans, FAO representative in Sri Lanka.

The impact of high food prices in developing countries - especially lowincome, food importing countries - is of serious concern. When the poor spend 50 to 80 per cent of their meagre income on food - increasing food prices endanger their health and livelihoods. Urgent action is needed on two fronts - making food accessible to the most vulnerable, and helping small producers raise their output and increase local supply.

As early as July last year, FAO warned of the impending crisis, and in December it launched an initiative to boost food production in the short term. Known as "the initiative on soaring food prices" (ISFP). It had simple but effective goals: distribute seeds, fertilizer, animal feed, farming tools and supplies to smallholder farmers.

FAO is currently engaged in 35 countries supporting food production with the supply of improved seeds, fertilizers and other agriculture inputs for this summer planting season. In addition, FAO has approved a series of projects in 54 countries under its Technical Cooperation Programme for a total value of close to US$24 million but more funds are needed urgently to help the most affected countries increase production in the upcoming planting seasons.

Organised by: FAO Representation in Sri Lanka