ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is seeing signs of unexpectedly higher rice cultivation in the ongoing minor (Yala) cultivation season after shortages scares drove up prices, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.
Sri Lanka farmers sow about 800,000 hectares in the ‘Maha’ main season which starts from September and about 400,000 hectares in the minor Yala season.
“We had estimated that about 275,000 hectares will be cultivated this Yala season,” Minister Amaraweera told reporters on June 12.
“But now it looks like about 470,000 hectares would be sown. As a result we may need to import about two months of rice.”
Two months of rice is about 400,000 metric tonnes.
However with the lack of chemical fertilizer it is not clear whether the usual yield will come.
Farmers say the yield with organic fertilizer is about 30 to 40 below the usual harvest per acre.
Last week ministers told Parliament the Department of Agriculture has forecasted a deficit of 600,000 metric tonnes. Earlier Ministers said 800,000 MT of rice may need to be imported and 300,000 had already been imported.
As Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe and others warned there will be food shortages after August, frightened people had started stocking up rice driving up both rice and paddy prices.
In some areas paddy is demanded for around 150 rupees a kilogram, farmers say.
Meanwhile a price control order made by Consumer Affair Authority has also created shortages with shops running of rice.
The CAA has created shortages and black markets in many food items in the past. The National Medical Regulator Authority has also created shortages of medicine with price controls.
Food prices in Sri Lanka is soaring, after the central bank place price controls on interest rates and enforced them with printed money, triggering a collapse of the currency and high inflation.
Continued money printing has also triggered forex shortages as efforts are made to enforce a peg. (Colombo/June12/2022)