In Sri Lanka, a looming food crisis creates hunger fears
- Sri Lanka is steeped in a deep economic crisis
- The island nation is fast running out of food
- The government is taking steps to buy fertiliser
Sri Lanka, steeped in a deep economic crisis, fears that it may run out of food. A decision by the government last year to outlaw use of chemical fertilisers forced the island nation to go organic almost overnight. With plummeting yields in a distraught nation, citizens are afraid of a time when they might have to go to sleep hungry.
“While there may not be time to obtain fertiliser for this Yala (May-August) season, steps are being taken to ensure adequate stocks for the Maha (September-March) season, Sri Lanka’s new prime minister Ranil Wickremsinghe tweeted on Thursday.
The fertiliser shortage is due to a policy the Sri Lankan government had adopted last April banning all use of chemical fertilisers.
The Sri Lankan PM appointed nine new members to the cabinet Friday, including health, trade and tourism ministries. The finance ministry doesn’t yet have a minister, and is expected to be retained by the prime minister himself.
The island nation is battling a shortage of forex and fuel. Long queues have formed outside stores selling cooking gas cylinders, which have become extremely pricey. A cooking gas cylinder in Sri Lanka now costs around Rs 5,000 ($14), up from Rs 2,675 only last month, an already high price.
Mohammad Shaziy, a part-time chauffeur told Reuters that he has been in the queue for a cylinder for three consecutive days. “Only about 200 cylinders were delivered, even though there were about 500 people…Without gas, kerosene oil, we can’t do anything.”
“Last option, what? Without food we are all going to die. This will happen hundred percent,” he said.
In some hope for the debt-torn nation, Sri Lanka’s central bank governor said that foreign exchange has been secured from the World Bank through a loan as well as remittances to pay for fuel and cooking gas shipments. But supply side pressures and other bank measures may push up inflation to above 40% over the next two months.