• Thursday, June 30, 2022

INDIA

India assures Sri Lanka of fertiliser supplies to avoid food shortages

India has assured Sri Lanka of fertiliser supplies to help the debt-ridden country avert severe food shortages caused by crop losses and exacerbated by the worst economic crisis, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office said on Thursday

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (L) shakes hands with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) during a ceremonial reception at the Indian Presidential House in New Delhi on November 29, 2019. (Photo by MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

PRESIDENT Rajapaksa, while speaking with a group of irrigation officials on the next harvesting season’s requirements, said prime minister Narendra Modi had assured him of fertiliser supply for the next cultivation season

He said the supply to be delivered under the Indian Line of Credit and would be distributed within 20 days after the consignment reaches Colombo

Sri Lanka is aiming to boost its agriculture sector to avoid any disruption in the agriculture market following the drop in paddy cultivation during the Maha session. Yala is the season of paddy cultivation in Sri Lanka that lasts between May and August

The Sri Lankan government banned chemical fertilisers last year as part of a phased transition towards organic agriculture. The dearth of adequate supplies of organic fertilisers affected agricultural output, especially rice and tea, and caused a food shortage with crop losses amounting to 50 per cent

Rajapaksa, a few weeks ago, admitted his decision to ban chemical fertilisers to go 100 per cent organic was wrong

The agriculturists have warned that the country may encounter a food shortage by mid-August in the ongoing economic crisis

Last month, India assured Sri Lanka to immediately supply 65,000 metric tonnes of urea to avoid any disruption in paddy cultivation

The Government of India decided to supply this quantity of urea immediately to Sri Lanka at the request of the Government of Sri Lanka, despite a ban on the export of urea from India, the Sri Lankan High Commission had said in a statement

Sri Lanka is aiming to boost its agriculture sector to avoid any disruption in the agriculture market following the drop in the paddy cultivation during the Maha session

Sri Lanka’s annual fertiliser imports cost $400 million. Farmers across the country have protested against fertiliser shortages, saying they are being forced to abandon their farmlands

Sri Lanka has more than 2 million farmers and up to 70 per cent of its 22 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture

India has committed more than $3 billion to debt-ridden Sri Lanka in loans, credit lines and credit swaps since January this year to help the neighbouring nation which is grappling with the worst economic crisis since its independence

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices

The crisis has provoked widespread protests and led to calls for political reform and the resignation of President Rajapaksa.

(PTI)

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