ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka needs an agricultural offensive to ensure food security in 2022 though the country is self-sufficient in turmeric, ethanol and some grains were also been banned to give profits to farmers, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said.
“2022 is a year we have to take many decisions regarding food security,” President Rajapaksa said delivering a policy speech at the start of a new session of parliament on January 18.
“There is a strong need to increase domestic production capacity.Using all wet and dry agricultural land to start an agriculture offensive. Since we have already started the reconstruction and building of irrigation facilities, is a strength.”
Sri Lanka is facing crop losses after a chemical fertilizer ban imposed by the President under the advice of the Government Medical Officers Association and a Buddhist monk.
Though the ban has been reversed, the main Maha cultivation season has been hit and paddy output is expected to fall over 30 percent according to some estimates. Prices of many foods are rising.
However the country is now self-sufficient in turmeric, President said. Many producers are making high profits by selling goods at high prices, he said.
“After I became President, the import of 16 items, like green gram, cowpea, turmeric and ginger was banned,” President said.
“Today farmers are seeing the benefits. They get a high price.
“Tea coconut rubber also got good prices. Today we are self-sufficient in turmeric. Because we stopped re-export, pepper, areca nut producers get a good price. Bulath also gets a good price. Ethanol import was banned. Now sugar companies are making profits and cane farmers are getting a good price.”
For over 70 years Sri Lanka has been pushing import substitution to save foreign exchange without bringing laws to control the central bank’s money-printing powers to stop forex shortages.