BusinessSri Lanka Appeals for Farmers to Plant Extra Rice

Sri Lanka Appeals for Farmers to Plant Extra Rice

Sri Lanka needs farmers to plant extra rice as part of plans to avoid a severe food shortage, a top official said on Tuesday.

As authorities warned of a 50% drop in production that would exacerbate the impact of its already-severe financial crisis.

Sri Lanka is in the throes of its poorest such crisis in more than seven decades.

The island of 22 million people has run out of foreign exchange reserves.

And is incapable to pay for serious imports including fuel, food and medicine.

“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,”

Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told a press discussion on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka’s new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has warned of a unadorned food shortage by August.

Also estimates $600 million will be required to import fertliser, which the country is struggling to increase.

Most fertilizer will reach too late for the next cultivation cycle that typically kicks off in early June, a group of agriculture experts have advised.

In the next two seasons, sufficient quantities of fertilizer will not be accessible to fulfill the nutrient necessities of any of the major crops of rice, tea and maize.

Buddhi Marambe, an agriculture professor at the University of Peradeniya, said:

Some areas will lose more than 50% of the paddy yield even if action is taken.

“Even if we bring fertilizer today, it will be too late to have a good harvest,” he said.

Talks are proceeding with India to procure 65,000 tons of fertilizer and petitions have been made to seven other countries, Amaraweera said.

But he did not reveal details of when shipments would arrive.

Last month the central bank publicized it would “preemptively” nonpayment on some of its external debt.

As the currency depreciated more than 50% and food inflation hit 46% in April.

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