‘We are going to die’: Lanka’s PM Wickremesinghe warns of a food shortage

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‘We are going to die’: Lanka’s PM Wickremesinghe warns of a food shortage

A decision in April last year by Prez Gotabaya to ban all chemical fertilisers drastically cut crop yields and although the govt has reversed the ban, no substantial imports have yet taken place

Topics


sri lanka | Economic Crisis | Ranil Wickremesinghe

Reuters 

Last Updated at May 21, 2022 02:19 IST

Sri Lanka’s prime minister has warned of a food shortage as the island nation battles a devastating economic crisis and vowed the government will buy enough fertiliser for the next planting season to boost harvests.

A decision in April last year by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to ban all chemical fertilisers drastically cut crop yields and although the government has reversed the ban, no substantial imports have yet taken place.

“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,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a message on Twitter late on Thursday.

“I sincerely urge everyone to accept the gravity of the … situation.”

Rajapaksa appointed nine new members to the cabinet on Friday, including to the critical health, trade and tourism ministries. But he did not name a finance minister and the portfolio is likely to be retained by Wickremesinghe.

Tourism-dependent Sri Lanka is facing a dire shortage of foreign exchange, fuel and medicines, and economic activity has slowed to a crawl.

“There is no point in talking about how hard life is,” said A.P.D. Sumanavathi, a 60-year-old woman selling fruit and vegetables in the Pettah market in Colombo, the commercial capital. “I can’t predict how things will be in two months, at this rate we might not even be here.”

Nearby, a long queue had formed in front of a shop selling cooking gas cylinders, the prices of which have soared to nearly 5,000 rupees ($14) from 2,675 rupees in April.

“Only about 200 cylinders were delivered, even though there were about 500 people,” said Mohammad Shazly, a part-time chauffeur in the queue for the third day in the hope of cooking for his family of five.

Rajapaksa swears in nine ministers

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa swore in nine new ministers in an effort to ensure stability until a full Cabinet is formed in the island nation engulfed in the worst economic crisis since its independence. The ministers were sworn in after a delay of more than a week since the president appointed new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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