Extreme drought has reported hit Sri Lanka following heavy rainfalls with large swaths of cropping areas, threatening the food security of some 900,000 people, NaijaAgroNetreports.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), while confirming this to NaijaAgroNet, saying that the joint Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission, showed that drought conditions in 2016 and early 2017 led to widespread crop failures, in particular for rice paddy – the country’s staple food.

This NaijaAgroNetreported has resulted in a Total paddy production in 2017 worth forecast at 2.7 million tonnes, almost 40 per cent 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.

Now, nearly 225,000 households (or about 900,000 people) face food insecurity. The most vulnerable groups are struggling to earn an income after losing their own crops and have fewer employment opportunities. In ten districts, a previous joint assessment showed that about one third of the drought-affected population had its regular income reduced by more than half, compared to the income generated from the 2015-2016 Maha season.

The situation may further deteriorate if the next cropping season fails. Due to a critical shortage of seeds and a lack of water for irrigation, the second 2017 paddy harvest – known as Yala, due to be harvested in August and September – is forecast at 1.2 million tonnes, 24 percent below last year’s level.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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This post was originally published at Naija AgroNet and has been republished with permission.

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