The World Bank has agreed to provide much needed financial assistance to debt-ridden Sri Lanka to obtain urea-based fertilizer for the upcoming Maha season in the country, according to a media report.
Maha Season falls during the northeast monsoon from September to March the following year. Currently, the Yala season continues. Yala is the paddy growing season in Sri Lanka which lasts between May and August.
The agreement between the WB and Sri Lanka was reached during a discussion held recently between Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera and representatives of the World Bank office in Sri Lanka at the Ministry of Agriculture, reported Wednesday the Colombo Page news portal.
Amaraweera said World Bank officials have agreed to provide the appropriate financial assistance during the discussion held regarding obtaining chemical fertilizers needed to grow paddy during this year’s Maha season.
The minister said he appreciated the World Bank’s support for the program to provide rice to the people of the country without any shortage in the future.
Amaraweera further said that discussions should take place with other institutions such as the World Bank to provide the necessary fertilizers and agrochemicals for the cultivation of paddy as well as other crops.
The Sri Lankan government banned chemical fertilizers last year as part of a gradual transition to organic farming. The shortage of sufficient supplies of organic fertilizers has affected agricultural production, especially rice and tea, and caused food shortages with crop losses amounting to 50%.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa a few weeks ago admitted that his decision to ban chemical fertilizers to become 100% organic was a mistake.
Farmers have warned that the country could face a food shortage by mid-August amid the current economic crisis.
Last month, India assured Sri Lanka of immediate supply of 65,000 metric tons of urea to avoid any interruption in paddy cultivation.
Sri Lanka’s annual fertilizer imports cost US$400 million. Farmers across the country protested fertilizer shortages, saying they were being forced off their farmlands.
Sri Lanka has over 2 million farmers and up to 70% of its 22 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture.
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