Food Insecurity and Revolution

It’s already happened in Sri Lanka.

Shefali O'Hara
3 min readJul 27, 2022


Photo by Asantha Abeysooriya on Unsplash

In May, 2021, Sri Lanka’s president announced that his country would no longer use chemical fertilizers. Under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s watch, the country had decided to work with the United Nations and the World Bank to focus on a green economy.

Among other changes, the president forced Sri Lanka’s farmers to go 100% organic.

The rice and tea harvests were decimated. These are critical crops. Now a third of the country’s farmland lies fallow.

The failure of Sri Lanka’s new agricultural policy is one of the main causes of the starvation that is now affecting the country. Without fertilizer, farmers could not grow enough food, either to feed its own population or to export to get cash to buy fuel.

This is not the only reason Sri Lanka is having problems. The pandemic cut off the supply of tourists, which removed a source of foreign exchange. The ban on fertilizer, however, made it impossible for the country to feed itself since it dramatically reduced crop yields. Now food, fuel, gas, medicine, and other essentials are scarce and the government has no foreign reserves to pay for imports.

This article in the Khaleej Times tells the story of a housewife with three children who approached the reporter’s vehicle one night. The woman, Swarna Premarathne, was not a beggar. She had never begged before in her life. She looked “embarrassed, scared, and hungry.”

She told the reporter, “I’m here out of no choice. I haven’t even dreamt of begging on the streets. We are from a good family. But I’m pregnant, my children are hungry, and they haven’t eaten a meal in two days.”

She used to work in a restaurant as a cook. Her husband drove a trishaw. Now they are both unemployed.

This has led to a revolution in the capital, Colombo.

Sri Lankans drove the president out and took over his home in mid-July. This CNN article has photos recording the takeover of the president’s compound. They entered after a standoff with armed police.

More than 100,000 people were recorded storming the President’s House. Later, they were seen hanging banners from the balcony and swimming in the…



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.