Food security and energy security are two important indicators of a country’s development. With president Maitripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka is expected to move towards policy changes on these two issues of impoartnce. An indication of what may come in the coming few years could be seen though President’s election manifesto which highlights the need to focus on food security and energy in Sri Lanka. The two themes being taken as being priorities can be noticed by the two appointments made for food security and energy among the cabinet ministers appointed on 12th January.
Food Security & Agriculture
Food security is one of the key aspects highlighted in the manifesto. One of the key concerns in addressing development, and also impacted by the adverse effects of climate change which would impact the yield of harvest and water supply food security is also impacted by the economic level of a country. President’s manifesto address this issue by focusing on the development of agriculture, focusing on healthy practices in the development of agriculture, and the use of indigenous knowledge.
Food security and agriculture are important in addressing climate change as well, given that the impacts of climate will have impacts on the agricultural sector and it is vital to make use of climate adaptive seeds. Further the manifesto addresses market mechanisms that threaten food security with anomalies and impacts on agriculture and transport of products. According to World Food Program data (2013) out of a total population of 1.2 million in the north, nearly 44% are food insecure. The assessment further indicated that the food security situation is fragile in poor areas due to a lack of livelihood and employment opportunities and consecutive natural disasters. The situation has resulted in people using negative coping mechanisms to meet household food needs highlighting the greater need to address the issue on an urgent level.
Land use and water resources are also focused with plans to maximising the use of available water resources and prevention of land grabbing in the name of development.
Energy security and low carbon development
On energy, there is focus on the transport sector. On the immediate level the energy consumption gives way to addressing corruption which impacted bad oil acquisition from countries. The manifesto also presents a sense of development of Sri Lanka as a sovereign state without the dependency on developed and oil producing countries. Subsidies are to be provided to the public transportation sector which would cut the costs of public transport at an initial level. The emission cuts are introduced following this step through a shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy. The steps of energy security moves from getting rid of dependency on foreign fuel purchases that are corruption based and overly priced which oppress the poor as well as reducing the price of electricity which will cut the use of fossil fuels for energy creation, to a better environmentally healthy solution which is based on renewable energy. Upon achieving this infrastructure is to be put in place for a renewable energy based developed, a cut on fossil fuel subsidies and shift from fossil to renewable energy is envisioned.
This pathway seems to address both the corruption in the increase of prices in transport and many sectors that are based on fossil fuel for the energy production, while envisaging a phase out of fossil fuel to renewable energy which will focus on mitigation of emissions of fossil fuels. If implemented with efficiency the projected plan would have a positive impact on addressing climate change, and development on a low carbon based strategy.
The first steps are based on the 100 day plan of the President. It would be interesting to see the changes that will be made to implement concrete steps to address the needs mentioned, and the aspirations of what is expected to be achieved through the manifesto for a food and energy secure Sri Lanka.
Note : The article could be found on Daily Nation on http://dailynation.lk/food-secure-energy-secure-sri-lanka/