Achieving sustainable food security : Country needs an overarching agriculture policy, says expert | Sunday Observer

Achieving sustainable food security : Country needs an overarching agriculture policy, says expert

The country needs an overarching agriculture policy that integrates all sub-sectors in agriculture such as annual food crops, perennial crops, export agricultural crops, livestock and poultry, fisheries, irrigation, agrarian development and environment, to achieve sustainable food security, said Professor, Weed Science, Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Buddhi Marambe.

He said any future policy change at sectoral (Ministry) level, should fall under this policy, to avoid domination of political whims and fancies. A more coherent link between the Government and the provincial set up is a must for successful policy implementation.

The National Adoption Plan (NAP) launched by the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment (MMD&E) is being re-visited at provincial level. Nine provincial adaptation plans are being prepared. This is a good move by MMD&E, and will help achieve sustainable food security and development under changing and variable climatic conditions.

The Climate Change Secretariat of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment launched the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) 2016-2025 to mitigate the impact of climate change.

“The word self-sufficiency should be used cautiously. It is not that we need to be self-sufficient in all the food needs. Food security is what matters. It is important for us to focus on what we can do best. National priorities have to be set to achieve long-term food security, giving due consideration to vagaries in the climate. The sectoral policies in the country have failed to deliver goods at expected levels. We have always been good at policy formulation, but have failed in implementation,” Prof. Marambe said.

“The country is on a path to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. Of the 17 SDGs, SDG-2 refers to 'End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture', while SDG-13 refers to 'Climate action'. These two highlight the two daunting tasks in front of us,” Prof. Marambe said.

He said NAP looks at 10 important economic sectors (nine sectors and a cross-cutting sector) to see how the country can adapt to the vagaries in the climate. The 10-year action plan highlights the need to have a joint and coordinated effort in all economic sectors of the country, including crop and animal agriculture, and provide guidance to mitigate the impact of climate change by identifying action, responsible institutions and estimated budgets.

The National Climate Change Policy (NCCCP) of Sri Lanka launched in 2012, focuses on both aspects of climate change, mitigation and adaptation. "Being a developing country, we need to pay more attention on adaptation and the NAP is supporting this worthy cause."

Climate-related disasters are growing all over the world. Extreme climate events (e.g. prolonged droughts and floods) have affected global agriculture heavily over the years, creating food shortages.

Thanks to climate change, we had to import about 600,000 tons of rice in late 2017 to feed the nation. We need to focus more on cost effective climate-smart agricultural technologies (e.g. drought tolerant varieties, crop-animal integration in farming, increase water use efficiency) to tackle issues related to food shortages in the future.