Sri Lanka urged to revitalize crop cultivation for the global market: August 29: Sri Lanka has received a resounding call from food and beverage experts to rejuvenate its crop cultivation efforts, positioning itself as a strong global player while boosting market access and earnings. This imperative transformation was highlighted at the National Food and Beverage Conference 2023, which united industry specialists, policymakers, and stakeholders to strategize on leveraging the international potential of Sri Lanka's unique produce. Hosted by the Industrial Development Board (IDB) in conjunction with the Industries Ministry and UNIDO's BESPA-FOOD Project funded by the EU, the conference rallied for the advancement of Sri Lanka's food and beverage sector. Discussions revolved around strategies to escalate production and exports, aligning industrial direction with global demands. Source, and source.
EU and FAO Support Modernization of Rice Cultivation: April 23: The European Union and the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization are supporting a project to modernize rice cultivation in Sri Lanka. The project is aimed at 71,000 smallholder paddy farmers and 1,200 paddy seed farmers across seven districts that recently experienced economic crisis including Polonnaruwa, Badulla, Ampara, Matale, Puttalam, Kurunegala and Hambantota districts. Alongside training and materials to improve cultivation methods, farmers will receive locally produced high-quality paddy seeds and support to increase efficiency and profitability. Recipients will also attend farmer-field schools to learn modern techniques such as the Integrated Plant Nutrient Management (IPNM) strategy. The program aims to promote a transition to greener and climate-smart agriculture, while improving production to prevent immediate food shortages, but also contribute towards a transition to a more sustainable and resilient agriculture sector in the future. Eligible paddy farmers cultivating up to 0.5 hectares of land will receive 50 kg urea fertilizer and necessary tools to enhance efficiency of fertilizer use. Crop failures during recent harvesting seasons due to shortages of fertilizer and vital inputs, have posed many challenges for smallholder paddy farmers to sustain their livelihoods. The program has already handed over 3,820 tonnes of urea fertilizer to the Ministry of Agriculture for distribution to selected farmers and will support farmers to grow quality paddy seeds and strengthen government owned farms in growing and processing certified paddy seeds. Source
Standing paddy stunted due to lack of fertilizer, yields plummet: August 17: Rice crop throughout most of the major growing belt of Sri Lanka is stunted for the second successive season due to deficiency of fertilizer, “In 10,900 hectares of land under cultivation in Kilinochchi, the average yield is likely to hit 2.3 metric tons per hectare . . . In previous years, paddy fields in the area delivered around 4.5 metric tons per hectare.” According to government data, 2 million people in the country are rice farmers. The World Food Programme estimates that about 6.7 million Sri Lankans out of a population of 22 million are not eating enough. Source.
Indian urea suitable for crop cultivation: July 12: The Sri Lankan government has confirmed that urea supplies from India will be suitable for the cultivation of paddy and other crops. A total of 44,000 tonnes of urea was imported from India to alleviate shortages in the crisis-hit country, which anticipates food shortages by mid-August. The initial consignment is part of 65,000 tonnes Indian loan assistance program pledged since May. The urea will be distributed to agricultural service centers across the island by Ceylon Commercial Fertiliser Company. A controversial decision by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last year to ban chemical fertiliser imports is being blamed for a food shortage and crop losses. Sri Lanka's total foreign debt reportedly stands at US$ 51 billion. Source.
Officials granted one work day week for agriculture: June 13: Among decisions taken at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers held on June 13 was a policy to encourage public officials to engage in agriculture and cultivation by granting government officials leave for one working day of the week and provide them with the necessary facilities to engage in agricultural activities in their backyards or elsewhere as a solution to the food shortage that is anticipated in the near future. The proposal, which was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, is to close all
government institutions except agencies providing essential services on Fridays for the next three months. Source. See also details about Sri Lanka’s current economic spiral, including relevant factors related to food, energy and geopolitical situations affecting supply chains. Source.