Food shortages increase crises in Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka

Columbo: As the island nation grapples with a terrible economic crisis, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka has warned of food scarcity, promising that the government will purchase enough fertiliser for the upcoming planting season to enhance harvests.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision in April last year to restrict all chemical fertilisers dramatically reduced crop output, and while the administration has now lifted the ban, no significant imports have yet occurred.

“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 respectfully request that everyone recognise the gravity of the situation.”

Tourism-dependent Sri Lanka is experiencing severe currency, fuel, and pharmaceutical shortages, and economic activity has slowed to a crawl.

On Thursday, the governor of the central bank announced that foreign exchange had been secured through a World Bank loan and remittances to pay for fuel and cooking gas shipments, but that supplies would still be delayed.

Inflation could reach 40% in the coming months, but the governor noted that supply-side pressures were driving it and that bank and government actions were already tamping down demand-side inflation.

In April, inflation reached 29.8%, with food prices increasing by 46.6 percent year over year.

Read: ‘Last day of petrol’, newly-elected PM of Sri Lanka

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