Modi assures fertiliser to Lanka amid food crisis

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Rajapaksa announced that the fertiliser would be supplied with Indian loan assistance and has planned to supply it within 20 days once it is received….reports Asian Lite News

Facing a disaster of severe food shortage over the worst economic crisis in Sri Lanka, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of fertiliser for the ongoing cultivation season.

Rajapaksa on Wednesday announced that the fertiliser would be supplied with Indian loan assistance and has planned to supply it within 20 days once it is received here.

He announced this at a discussion on the current crisis in the irrigation and agriculture sector in the country held at the President’s House in Colombo.

The fertiliser is expected to be delivered for Yala season, one of the two cultivation seasons in the Indian Ocean island nation, starting from May and August.

The country saw a nearly 30 to 40 per cent drop in yield during Maha season which ended in March and April.

The agriculture experts and farmers have blamed Sri Lankan government’s overnight decision on April 27, 2021, to ban chemical fertiliser as the reason for major cultivation drop.

In April 2021, President Rajapaksa admitted ban on chemical fertiliser was a mistake and reversed the decision, yet the dollar crunch with current economic crisis has become a major hurdle to import the chemical fertiliser.

In early May 2022 following discussions with Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India

Milinda Moragoda, India had assured the supply of the much needed fertiliser.

Sri Lankan High Commission in India had announced that following talks with India’s Secretary to the Department of Fertilisers, Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi, India has agreed to supply 65,000 MT of urea needed for the Yala season.

Going through the worst-ever economic crisis since independence, India has assisted her Southern neighbour with nearly $3 billion to provide essential items such as food, fuel, medicine and fertiliser.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is in talks with India for another credit line of USD 500 million for fuel imports.

This issue was discussed when Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda met with Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week, Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

The credit line is in addition to USD 500 million extended previously, the report said.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948. The recession is attributed to foreign exchange shortages caused by a clampdown on tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It left the country unable to buy enough fuel, with people facing an acute scarcity of food and basic necessities, fuel, and gas.

According to the Sri Lankan daily, India offered another USD 1 billion line of credit for essential imports. However, USD 200 million of it has been utilized for fuel imports, the report added.

The island nation has exhausted nearly US 700 million of Indian credit so far for diesel and petrol, Daily Mirror reported.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday praised India for extending support amid the continuing economic crisis and expressed a desire to further strengthen ties between the two nations.

“I expressed our country’s appreciation for the support India has extended during this difficult period. I look forward to further strengthening ties between our nations,” the Sri Lankan PM tweeted.

Wickremesinghe’s appreciation of India came on the same day when its neighbour donated 25 tons of drugs and other medical supplies valued at close to SLR 260 million.

The medical consignment was donated in response to requests by various organizations and hospitals spread across different parts of the country.

The Indian High Commission said these humanitarian supplies are in continuation of the Indian government’s ongoing support to the people of Sri Lanka in multiple forms such as financial assistance, forex support, material supply etc.

“These efforts testify to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy which places people-to-people engagement at its core,” the high commission said in a statement.

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