ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka must immediately start rebuilding its agricultural sector to prevent impending food shortages and to retain the international market for export crops, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said.
“We are losing the international market for our export crops. Measures must be taken to prevent this. [Inorganic] fertilizers are needed to stimulate local agriculture. It costs US$600 million per year to import fertilizers for paddy, vegetables, fruits, other major crops as well as our tea, rubber, coconut and export crops.
“Since manure must be applied from time to time from the beginning to the end of a harvest, it is essential that the fertilizer is exported without shortage. We must ensure that no money or effort will be wasted,” Wickremesinghe said in a statement to parliament on Monday (07).
Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector has suffered a catastrophic blow following President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ill-conceived overnight switch to organic farming. Compounded by the worsening currency crisis in the country, Sri Lanka is now eyeing a possible food shortage around October, as several government officials, including Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, have warned.
“Our harvest has decreased over the past few months. We have to deal with this situation and we have to work hard from now on to ensure the success of the next harvest. This crop, however, will be available by the end of February 2023,” Wickremesinghe said.
“In terms of rice, the annual rice requirement of our country is 2.5 million metric tons. But we only have 1.6 million tons of rice in stock. This is not limited to paddy but applies to many other crops. In a few months, we will have to face serious difficulties and food shortages. We have to import food products to meet our daily needs. It costs around $150 million a month,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cabinet of Ministers on Monday (06) approved a proposal to supply 150,000 tons of urea, 45,000 tons of MOP and 36,000 tons of TSP fertilizer to farmers for the next Maha growing season through the Ceylon Fertilizer Company and the Colombo Commercial Fertilizer Company.
Sri Lanka’s state enterprises to buy 230,000 tons of fertilizer for next agricultural season: minister