The army on Thursday established its Green Agriculture Steering Committee (GASC) to supplement and promote the food security program in Sri Lanka, which is experiencing the worst economic crisis since Britain’s independence in 1948.
The economic crisis has led to an acute shortage of essential items such as food, medicine, cooking gas, fuel and toilet paper, with Sri Lankans being forced to queue for hours in front of the shops to buy fuel and cooking gas.
Army Commander Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage is leading the emergency project that will start in early July as a support mechanism for the government’s cultivation drive. Major General Jagath Kodithuwakku, the chief of staff, will oversee the entire project.
The troops, in consultation with agricultural experts, will first prepare the soil by weeding, tilling and preparing beds for growing selected seed varieties, newsfirst.lk reported Friday.
All security forces headquarters and formations across the country are currently screening opportunities to add weight to the task at the regional level.
The identification of state lands at the regional level will be done in close consultation with the respective governors, district and division secretariats, land officials and grama seva officials before commencing ground preparation work in selected countries, the report said.
Sri Lanka has decided to import 50,000 tons of rice under the Indian Credit line to curb an abnormal rise in rice prices, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Thursday, as the island nation struggles with an impending food shortage.
The decision was made after a discussion at the Prime Minister’s Office to allocate funds to the State Trading Corporation under India’s loan program, the news portal EconomyNext reported.
In March, India granted a $1 billion credit line to the cramped Sri Lankan government to overcome the current economic turmoil and address the food shortage.
After an agreement was reached on extending the credit line, Foreign Ministry (MEA) spokesman Arindam Bagchi said India has always stood behind the people of Sri Lanka and will continue to provide all possible support to the country. .
In April 2021, chairman Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced a ban on fertilizers, which dealt a crippling blow to the production of rice and other essential foodstuffs.
Prior to the fertilizer ban, Sri Lanka was self-sufficient in rice production. The situation was exacerbated by an acute scarcity of foreign exchange reserves, sending Sri Lanka’s economy into a downward spiral.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe recently said in parliament that Sri Lanka needs $5 billion to ensure that people’s daily lives are not disrupted for the next six months.
The near-bankrupt country, with an acute currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, announced in April that it is suspending repayment of nearly $7 billion in foreign debt for this year of the roughly $25 billion owed through 2026.
Sri Lanka’s total external debt is $51 billion.
Sri Lanka awaits official confirmation from India on a new line of credit that will provide the ailing country with petrol and diesel for the next four months, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said Friday.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said a new line of credit provided by India will support the cramped island country’s fuel purchases for another four months from July, even if a 3,500-ton LPG shipment reaches Sri Lanka.