ECONOMYNEXT – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in partnership with Save the Children in Sri Lanka (SCISL), has donated 320 tons of split wax beans to school children amid an economic crisis that has affected the nutritional levels of many poor families.

Sri Lanka has appealed for international help to tackle a looming food shortage after an economic crisis hit the ground with lack of fertilizers halting the island nation’s food production in 2022.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo said the shipment is part of the USDA McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, a five-year, $26 million project to provide immediate emergency assistance to people food insecure to improve literacy and attendance by reducing hunger.

USDA and SCISL will work with the Sri Lankan government and local communities to ensure
food gets to those who need it most.

Analysts said most people, mainly low and middle income people, are forced to cut their food short, impacting nutrition level due to high cost of food after productions cut Sri Lanka food after former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa banned fertilizer imports overnight. It was also associated with record fuel prices and an unprecedented level of depreciation of the local rupee since March.

“The donation reflects larger U.S. efforts to scale up food security operations around the world to help
providing record amounts of immediate emergency aid to save lives and relieve
suffering,” the statement read.

Food inflation in Sri Lanka has been ranked 5th in the world by the World Bank. Food inflation jumped to a record 82.5% in July from 75.8% a month ago. The Ministry of Agriculture has advised citizens to cultivate in their home gardens for private consumption.

SCISL and the United States have announced more than $179 million in new assistance to Sri Lanka this year, including nearly $32 million in new humanitarian and technical assistance since June. (Colombo/August 27, 2022)