Awaiting to usher the National New Year, crisis-ridden Sri Lanka on Tuesday welcomed a consignment of 11,000 MT of rice received under the concessional Indian Credit Facility of $1 billion.
Having delivered 5000 MT over the last few days, April 12’s consignment is a part of total 40,000 MT to be imported by the State Trading Corporation from India under the Credit Facility Agreement which was signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the State Bank of India on March 17, 2022.
“The supply is a part of the multi-pronged support extended from India to Sri Lanka in the last few months, which includes timely supply of fuel, other forms of economic and forex support etc.,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo stated adding that the delivery of rice was done less than a month after signing the agreement.
“The expeditious supply, before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, is in line with the understandings reached regarding India’s support for Sri Lanka’s energy and food security.”
The assistance comes in the wake of India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar‘s visit to Sri Lanka in March.
Facing an acute food crisis due to economic calamity and agricultural “blunder” where president Gotabaya Rajapaksa in May 2021 banned using all chemical fertilizer while halting the import as well. The hurried ban sans plan for a proper alternative angered farmers with thousands got on to streets until the decision was reversed in November 2021.
Rajapaksa’s decision to ban inorganic fertilizer on health and environment reasons, plunged country’s agriculture into a disaster with a 40 per cent drop in crops production specially rice. The move also denied harvesting of paddy for farmers which is also connected to the tradition of the national new year.
Nearly two million farmers who cultivate around 700,000 hectares of paddy during Maha Season falls during “Northeast monsoon” from September to March have been affected.