Saturday, June 25, 2022

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SL Food cultivation battle begins after spending US$ 97 million for rice imports

Sri Lanka’s new administration has started a  food cultivation battle country wide assisting paddy and vegetable farmers in crop growing areas while  encourage gro more food home gardening campaign countrywide.

 This initiative has been taken at time where the country is fully depending on rice imports to avert hunger among the people.

 The Government has imported 338777 metric tons of rice, 97 percent of it from India since January to May 15 2022 period at a cost of US$ 97 million,Finance Ministry statistics shows.

The country has to spend at least $200 million to import rice for the next six months, Agriculture Minister  Mahinda Amaraweera said adding that the country needs to import around 800000 metric tons of rice to feed the people till the end of the year.   

Agriculture experts have warned of a food shortage as the island nation battles a devastating economic crisis and predicted an impending starvation among the people unless doubling the efforts to cultivate all barren lands and existing paddy fields. 

The government will buy enough fertiliser for the next Maha  planting season to boost productivity.  

A decision in April last year by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to ban all chemical fertilisers drastically cut yields and although the government has reversed the ban, no substantial imports have yet taken place.

While there may not be time to obtain fertiliser for this Yala (May-August) season, steps are being taken to ensure adequate stocks for the Maha (September-March) season,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a message on Twitter recently.

In order tackle the imminent food shortage, Indian government has agreed to deliver 65,000 metric tonnes of urea to the crisis-torn island country under an existing US$ 1 billion Indian line of credit for Maha season paddy  cultivation.

The World Bank has also stepped in to provide $ 105 million to import urea fertiliser, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amraweera said adding that after receiving the 65000 metric tons of urea from India , a part of it could be used for Yala season paddy cultivation.

Sri Lanka had to import rice in a big way since January 2022  due to paddy crop devastation due to overnight organic farming  policy blunder with the ban of chemical fertiliser imports to save $ 400 million by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka is facing a dire shortage of foreign exchange, fuel and medicines, and economic activity has slowed to a crawl at present .

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