Sri Lanka professionals call for policy reform in agriculture

June 16, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka must have a clear cut agriculture policy, especially for paddy, without resorting to short term solutions, if the country is to tackle the approaching food security issues, agriculture professionals said. “We have been having ad hoc approaches to food security and food policy,” said Nimal Ranaweera, a former additional secretary of the ministry of agriculture.

“We have not over the last ten years had a concentrated policy which really examined in depth the supply-demand and all factors that come into play. We have been just doing things peace meal, one at a time (solutions) and reacting on issues.”

Such as approach was dangerous and if the island continues with outdated policies passed down from previous generation “we will obviously crash land,” Ranaweera told LBO in an interview during a recent forum on rising food prices.

Agriculture is not isolated but interconnected to trade, tariffs, import, production and consumption policies, economists told the forum.

Therefore the authorities must look at policy redirection from a larger perspective, they added.

In most years Sri Lanka’s rice production costs have been higher than the costs elsewhere.

Local rice production has tra