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Thursday March 23rd, 2023

FAO to provide Urea, cash for crisis-hit Sri Lankan small-hold farmers 

ECONOMYNEXT- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the World (FAO) will distribute 50 kilograms of Urea fertilizer free of charge for 398,000 smallholder farmers while it will grant 60 US dollar cash aid for around 9,000 green gram farmers, an FAO official said on Thursday.

The move comes as a measure to prevent a potential food shortage in August due to the fall in crop yield following chemical fertilizer ban by the government last year.

“Under the joint Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan (HNP) launched by the United Nations in Sri Lanka, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) is seeking international assistance to provide agriculture inputs including seeds and fertilizers (50 kilograms of Urea each) to a target of 398,000 smallholder farmers with landholdings up to 1 acre,” an FAO official, based in Colombo office who asked not to be named, told EconomyNext.

“In addition, FAO is planning a cash transfer programme of USD 700,000 through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation (SFERA).”

“Under the programme, 8750 smallholder farmers engaging in green gram cultivation in 7 districts will receive USD 60 (around 21,000 rupees) each enabling them to buy food and /or the productive inputs they need.”

State health officials have warned of a growing malnutrition in Sri Lanka as an impact  of economic crisis that has forced many people to reduce their food intake and go hunger.

The programme by the FAO expects to provide green gram as a raw material for supplementary food for children and pregnant mothers, an agriculture ministry official said.

“This is given to us because we do not have Thirposha (local supplementary food),” Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Agriculture told EconomyNext, “This is a solution to aid farmers to combat the food crisis.”

Amaraweera is in discussion with the World Bank in order to acquire the necessary funds to import the necessary fertilizers with the intention to prevent the food crisis in August 2022.

Amaraweera is confident that a food crisis can be prevented if Sri Lanka embarks on contributing via home-gardening projects.

The government is also in the move to cultivate unutilized lands in the country for a lease period of 5 years to combat the food crisis followed by a persisting foreign exchange crisis. (Colombo/Jun15/2022)

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Sri Lanka establishes committee to investigate aircraft incidents

An aircraft lands at the Jaffna International Airport, which was opened in October 2019 and promises to push the tourism frontiers in Jaffna.

ECONOMYNEXT: Sri Lanka’s has established an expert committee under the state-run Civil Aviation Authority to investigate aircraft accidents and to implement precautionary methods in the Sri Lankan airspace, an Official said.

“Even if it is only one flight, there is a chance an accident may occur,” Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, Director General, P. A. Jayakantha said.

“This particular committee is there to investigate aircraft accidents and act as a mechanism to take over if something goes wrong”.

Sri Lanka has encountered around 2,700 minor aircraft accidents and incidents mostly on the ground in the 19 years through 2021, the CAA annual reports showed.

The new committee will analyze the past accidents and take precautionary measures while also conducting investigations and provide independent reports in the future, Jayakantha said.

The team is provided with required training and qualifications by the CAA along with an International organization, free of charge.

“Internationally also it is a requirement to have a team to investigate the aircraft accidents,” Jayakantha added.

“For a long time we have not fulfilled this requirement and that is why we established this team with the cabinet approval. Moreover, recently, Sri Lanka’s two aircrafts, one training aircraft and a commercial aircraft met an accident”

The committee will be on active duty, until the Accident Investigation Act is passed and a proper Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Bureau is established. (Colombo/ Mar23/2023)

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Sri Lanka bond yields steady, Rupee 319/325 at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s treasury bond yields closed steady on Thursday while rupee closed weaker, dealers said.

A 01.07.2025 bond closed at 30.60/31.00 percent on Tuesday, down from 30.25/75 percent on Wednesday.

A 15.09.2027 bond closed at 27.80/28.10 percent, steady from 27.90/28.00 percent from Wednesday.

Sri Lanka rupee closed at 319/325 against the US dollar depreciating from 318/320 from a day earlier. (Colombo/ March23/2023)

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Sri Lanka shares dive to two-week low on local debt restructuring fears

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka market fell for a fourth session to a two-week low on Thursday, led by financials, as worries over domestic debt restructuring continued after the IMF loan was approved earlier this week resulting in investors adopting a wait-and-see approach until further clarity was provided, analysts said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed down 1.38 percent or 131.07 points to 9,395.98, lowest since March 02.

Analysts said, majority of the banks have been on slower investment trends on fears of domestic debt restructuring after the IMF approval and waiting for more clarity on the local debt restructuring.

“The market is on muted sentiments despite the IMF loan being approved and is going through a period of consolidation,” Ranjan Ranatunga of First Capital Holdings said.

The market saw a net foreign outflow of 298 million rupees and the total offshore inflows recorded so far in 2023 to 3.3 billion rupees.

The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 1.64 percent, or 45.33 points, down at 2,722.94.

The market saw a turnover of 3.4 billion rupees on Thursday, above this year’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees.

This is the highest turnover generated since March 08, which is when the market was driven off of positive sentiments from International Monetary Fund deal hope after Chinese assurances.

Top contributors to revenue was Agalawatte Plantations, on off board transactions of a stake change, contributing revenue of 1.6 billion rupees, Ranatunga said.

Top contributors to revenue industry wise was Food and Beverage and Telecommunications.

Sri Lanka Telecom has been seeing positive uptrends as the Secretary to the Treasury has informed the Board of Directors of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT) and Lanka Hospitals PLC that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval in principle for the divestment of the stakes held by the Treasury Secretary in the two companies.

Top losers were Sampath Bank, Hatton National Bank and Commercial Bank.

Sri Lanka is looking at options to re-structure domestic debt, or local law local currency debt (LLLC), without harming the banking sector and announce them the International Monetary Fund said in a report.

Banks have been witnessing profit taking and selling pressures after continuous uptrends prior to the IMF loan had been approved.

Analysts said, selling pressures is expected to ease as the IMF hopes to reduce inflationary pressures which will in turn lead to reductions in interest rates. (Colombo/Mar23/2023)

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