Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, warned of the threat of food shortages amid an economic and political crisis that continues to worsen due to mismanagement of the country by the previous government.
Sri Lanka is in danger of experiencing a food crisis following a shortage of fertilizers in the growing season this May to August.
The shortage of fertilizers occurred after last year’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa drastically banned the use of all chemical fertilizers.
This has led to a drastic reduction in crop yields in Sri Lanka even though the government has now lifted the ban.
“While there may not be sufficient time to procure fertilizer for this Yala season (May-August), steps are being taken to ensure sufficient stock for the Maha season (September-March),” Wickremesinghe tweeted last week.
“I really urge everyone to accept the gravity of the current situation,” said the new prime minister, who took office in mid-May.
In addition to the threat of a food crisis, Sri Lanka is currently facing a shortage of foreign exchange, fuel, and medicine which has triggered the country’s economic activity to slow down.
“There is no point in talking about how difficult life is,” A.P.D Sumanavathi, a resident selling fruit and vegetables at Colombo’s Pettah market, told Reuters.
“I can’t predict how things will be in two months, if this situation continues, maybe in the next two months we won’t even be here,” he said.
Near the Pettah market, a long snaking line was seen in front of a shop selling gas cylinders. Even though the price of fuel and gas has soared, residents are still hunting for gas to cook and trade.
“Only about 200 cylinders were sent, even though there were around 500 people in line,” said a part-time driver, Mohammad Shazly.
Shazly said that this is the third day in line for gas so his wife can cook at home.
“Without gas, without kerosene, we can’t do anything. What’s the last option? Without food we will die, it will happen 100 percent,” said Shazly.
Sri Lanka’s central bank governor said foreign exchange and World Bank loans had been secured to pay for fuel and gas shipments. However, supply still requires more processing and time.
If things don’t improve, Sri Lanka’s inflation rate could rise further to 40 percent in the next few months.
Sri Lanka’s inflation had reached 29.8 percent in April with food prices continuing to rise 46.6 percent compared to the previous period.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has occurred in the last few years which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and mismanagement by the government until the Rajapaksa breed government was forced to resign.
Meanwhile, the appointment of Wickremesinghe as the new PM has not resolved the problem. Many in the opposition and residents accuse Wickremesinghe of being an accomplice to Rajapaksa who was deliberately appointed to lead the Sri Lankan government.