ECONOMYNEXT – The World Bank has agreed to provide 110 million US dollars to purchase fertilizer to Sri Lanka, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said on Tuesday as the island nation is facing a looming food shortage amid an economic crisis.
Sri Lanka’s fertilizer shortage has hit the production of its staple food rice and the price of rice has already more than doubled due to supply shortage. The rice production has reduced by up to 40 percent in the last Maha cultivation season ended in February this year, the government has said.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s gamble to make the country ‘only organic cultivation’ by banning chemical fertilizer hit farmers as well as consumers due to lower production.
The ban was lifted in November last year, but the country could not import any fertilizer as it does not have dollars.
“The amount given by the World Bank goes as a concessionary loan. It is not a commercial loan,” Amaraweera told the weekly cabinet media briefing on Tuesday (05) adding that the loan will bear lower interest rate.
He also said the World Food Program (WFP) has pledged to provide 365,000 urea bags free of charge for low income Sri Lankan farmers.
Amaraweera said the ultimate goal is to have a successful Maha cultivation season which starts in November this year to ensure self-sufficiency in rice production.
“To have a successful Maha season we are underway with the relevant discussions. We will be able to produce the required rice with no requirement of importing in the next Maha season.” (Colombo/July 05/2022)