Sri Lanka’s prisoners will be trained for modern agricultural practices with international support amid the government’s efforts to bring in new food security laws.
The Department of Prisons is planning on enhancing the skills of inmates in modern cultivation practices, with assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The move comes as President Ranil Wickremesinghe this week said new laws are expected to be introduced in the future to ensure food security.
“If the Ukraine and Russia continues in 2023, there might be a food shortage. It mainly depends on the local drought. If the local drought hits Sri Lanka, we will be dependent on food imports,” Wickremesinghe told this week at a public meeting.
“All the wealthy countries will stock up and will have high buying power of food and we will have to compete with them, which will lead to a shortage. To combat the food shortage and drought, we have implemented a program under food safety and food protection. Under food security, we have added nutritional aspects too.”
The statement came shortly after Sri Lanka banned low cost rice imports saying there was excess rice stocks in the country, prices were falling and farmers incomes had to be protected. Chicken farmers were trying to export as prices fell.
However eggs are in short supply after the government imposed price controls putting small farmers out of business. Poultry farmers have offered to buy excess rice but the price control agency has banned the practice.
Sri Lanka restricts rice imports ahead of harvest
Sri Lanka chicken farmers eye exports as domestic prices drop
Sri Lanka poultry farmers offer to buy excess rice to keep paddy prices up
Lands from Mahara Prison and Pallansena Youth Correctional Center have been utilized for the establishment of sustainable farming structures.
The Prisons Department told EconomyNext that a program with the UN is being conducted to promote sustainable agriculture and develop skills for successful reintegration into society.
“Inmates must be provided opportunities to develop their skills in a meaningful way to ensure successful reintegration into society. The modern farming structures at the correctional facilities will also help strengthen the food security of the inmates,” Commissioner–General of Prisons, Thusara Upuldeniya told EconomyNext
Sri Lanka’s food prices soared over the past year after the rupee collapsed while in 2021 agriculture production was hit by a fertilizer ban by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The policy backfired with the island nation’s rice cultivation falling and Rajapaksa had to reverse the policy before he was ousted by public protests.
The new support will see officials and inmates be given certificates to recognize the skills developed as part of the project and support the inmates’ access to livelihoods in the agriculture sector at the point of reintegration into society.
Sri Lanka’s Agriculture and Wildlife Minister, however said though discussions had been held with the FAO and UNODC, he was unaware of the program held with the Department of Prisons. (Colombo/Dec17/2022)
Disclaimer: Prisoners to become farmers in crisis-hit Sri Lanka as rice imports banned By NESHELLA PERERA - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view