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Sri Lankan Agriculture Minister to farmers: ‘plant more rice’

Image Source: Adnan Abidi/REUTERS

One of Sri Lanka’s top officials is calling on farmers to plant more rice so that there will be enough food for everyone. Experts have recently warned of a 50% decline in production, which could lead to severe shortages and an even greater financial crisis throughout 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 to reporters at a press conference this Tuesday.

The people of Sri Lanka have been going through a terrible time – the worst in seven decades. The country with 22 million citizens is running short on its reserve and cannot purchase necessary imports like food, fuel or medicine.

The new prime minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has told the public that there may be a severe food shortage by August; and he also said the government would need around $600 million to import fertilizers for crop production. The figure may not be achievable considering the current condition that the country is under.

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.

Buddhi Marambe, an agriculture professor at the University of Peradeniya, said, “Even if we bring fertilizer today, it will be too late to have a good harvest.”

Even if the government manages to provide fertilizers and other resources, it’s likely that the country will lose over 50% of its yield, Marambe told reporters.

In a move that could help alleviate the country’s fertilizer shortage, the Agriculture Minister has reached out to India for over 65 thousand tons of fertilizer. He also asked seven other countries for help, not disclosing when these imports would arrive.

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