Image Source: Adnan Abidi/REUTERS
A Sri Lankan top official calls on farmers to plant more rice to curb possible severe food shortages. Experts have recently warned of a 50% decline in food production in addition to the severe financial crisis in the country.
“It is clear the food situation is becoming worse. We request all farmers to step into their fields in the next five to ten days and cultivate paddy,” said Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera in a press conference this Tuesday.
Sri Lanka faces its worst crisis in more than seven decades. The country of 22 million people has been running short of its reserve and is now incapable of purchasing necessary imports like food, fuel, and medicine.
The country’s new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the public that the country might be headed to a severe food shortage by August and further told the media that the country would need around $600 million to import needed fertilizers for crop production. This is an amount that the country is unable to raise.
Agriculturists in the country warn that should the country bring in fertilizer, it would have been too late for the next cultivation cycle. For the next two seasons, fertilizers will not be enough to provide nutrients to crops produced by Sri Lankan farmers, such as rice, tea, and maize.
“Even if we bring fertilizer today, it will be too late to have a good harvest,” Buddhi Marambe, an agriculture professor at the University of Peradeniya, said.
He further explained that due to this, the country would lose more than 50% of its yield even if the government managed to deliver the required fertilizers to farmers.
The Agriculture Minister has reached out to India for the procurement of over 65,000 tons of fertilizers. The Amaraweera has also asked for help from seven other countries, not disclosing when the imports will arrive.
Opinions expressed by NY Weekly contributors are their own.