ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is to lease 2,750 acres of state land (1,123 hectares) to investors to grow maize in a commercial scale after banning its imports in yet another drive to ‘save foreign exchange’ instead of reforming the country’s money printing central bank.
“The government has taken measures to limit imports of food crops that have been recognized for cultivation within the country with the objective of controlling unnecessary influx (sic) of foreign exchange abroad,” a government statement said.
“Accordingly import of maize has been suspended.”
There was a need to produce about 250,000 metric tonnes for Thriposha (a nutritional supplement for children distributed by the state) the government said, without giving a period.
Authorities have identified 2,750 acres of land coming under Rambakan Oya project zone coming under the Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority which are not in any forest reserve which are now ‘underutilized’.
The lands will be given to investors to for the large-scale production of maize locally.
The Cabinet of Ministers had approved a proposal by the Minister of Irrigation to lease the land for one year to ‘recognized local investors’.
Based on the progress of cultivation they will be given the land on a long term lease based on the Crown Lands Ordinance.
The restriction of various foods, licensing as well as the frequent changes of taxes has come fire for raising prices, giving excess profits to rent seeking Mercantilists (a so-called the collector mafia who also cultivate in commercial scale) and contributing to protein malnutrition and stunting of children.
The so-called maize mafia has been squeezing poultry farmers for decades.
Various import substitution businesses (now referred to as cronies) have cropped in various sectors who are selling goods at high prices and earning large profits, under cover of foreign exchange shortage created by money printing. (Colombo/Feb07/2021)