Farmers

Tobacco Cultivation: A Threat to Sri Lanka’s Food Security amidst COVID-19

In 2017, the government made a commitment to ban tobacco cultivation by end 2020 and launched a programme to discourage farmers from growing tobacco and instead switch to sustainable alternatives. While the transition period of the proposed cultivation ban is nearly over, the programme is currently at a deadlock. This blog examines how tobacco cultivation could weaken the government’s efforts to promote home gardening and why the transformation initiative should be sped up to improve food security during the COVID-19 outbreak.

New Face of Hunger: Building a Resilient Food System in Sri Lanka in an Age of Pandemic

Among the many impending crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, rising food insecurity due to lockdown measures is one of the most critical. The food system in Sri Lanka has already proven to be vulnerable and inefficient in coping with crises. Further, malnutrition is a persistent problem in Sri Lanka, with severe regional disparities. Policymakers are thus faced with the dual challenge of mitigating the short and medium term impacts of COVID-19 as well as strengthening Sri Lanka’s food systems in the long term. This blog examines how COVID-19 could worsen food security issues in the country and what measures can be taken to overcome these challenges.

Ban on Tobacco Cultivation: A Blessing in Disguise for Sri Lankan Farmers

While the topic of tobacco control is mentioned in some of the main presidential candidates’ manifestos, it is uncertain whether they will honour the commitment made in 2017 to ban tobacco cultivation by next year. Since two third of the transition period of the proposed cultivation ban has already lapsed, it is unclear whether the shift from tobacco will be achieved by the end of 2020. Another concern is whether the 2019 presidential election will be an opportunity for lobby groups to convince policymakers to reverse the proposed ban. In such an uncertain policy environment, this blog examines the possibility of switching to alternative crops.

Farm Smart! Developing Sri Lanka’s Agriculture Sector in the 4IR

Rapid population growth has put tremendous pressure on the world’s agricultural systems to provide safe and nutritious food to all. Unfortunately, productivity growth has been hampered by land and water resources degradation and climate change. As it stands, emerging technologies of the 4IR can overcome the structural weaknesses of the current food systems and deliver more productive, competitive, and sustainable outcomes. This blog examines the ways in which such technologies can revolutionise the agriculture sector in Sri Lanka.

Contract Farming: A Way to Even the Playing Field?

Farmers in rural areas struggle with the lack of agricultural inputs, outdated technology used in agronomic practices, unpredictable weather, and difficulties in finding better markets with reasonable prices for their harvest. In most areas, small-scale farmers are sidelined when there are large scale players in the production field. The author argues that Contract Farming (CF) can help even the playing field by integrating traditional farmers into existing modern value chains.