To evaluate this claim, FactCheck consulted the latest available Labour Force Survey (LFS) statistics, which provides sector-wise estimates of employment. The average labour force engaged in agriculture, as their primary employment, was 27.3% from 2014 – 2018, with a low of 25.5% in 2018, and a high of in 28.9% in 2014. This figure includes workers in the informal sector. 27.3% falls well below the 40% claimed by the MP.
The LFS statistics report another 2.5% of workers engaged in agriculture as their secondary employment in the same period. Therefore, even if the MP was referring to both primary and secondary employment, the total five-year average employment in agriculture is only 29.8%—which is well below the 40% claimed.
Therefore, we classify the MP’s statement as FALSE.
*FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment.
Exhibit 1: Percentage employed in agriculture
The latest available LFS quarterly data shows that, in the first quarter of 2020, the percentage of people employed in agriculture was even lower than in 2018. After making this claim, the MP went on to state, "Another 30% have livelihoods that are indirectly involved in agriculture." It is not clear how the MP might characterise "indirect" employment. FactCheck was not able to find any source of data on indirect employment in agriculture. For these reasons, this part of the statement was not evaluated.
- Department of Census and Statistics, Sri Lanka Labour Force Survey Annual Report, 2014 – 2018, available at: http://www.statistics.gov.lk/LabourForce/StaticalInformation/AnnualReports [last accessed 24 September 2020]