Agriculture in Sri Lanka, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, has also experienced an unprecedented economic collapse. Local farmers of the country said that due to the lack of fertilizer, paddy cultivation has decreased in most of the lands.

According to the Reuters report, according to the country’s government estimates, 10,900 hectares of land have been cultivated in Sri Lanka’s Kilinochchi. The average yield here can be 2.3 MT per hectare.

According to a local government official who did not want to be named, in the past years, about 4.5 metric tons of paddy was produced per hectare of paddy field in the area.

Rice is the staple food of Sri Lanka. A bleak picture is emerging as the summer crop in the Indian Ocean island’s entire paddy field could be halved from last year, according to experts.

Sri Lanka’s staple food is rice, so it is somewhat conceivable that the country is going to face more crisis in the future. Already the country is going through the worst economic crisis in history.

Analysts say fertilizer shortage is not the only problem facing farmers. The country has hardly enough foreign exchange reserves to import enough fuel. So there is less farm machinery and trucks to increase the supply of rice to the market. Some farmers said their crops were not yet ready to harvest.

Adding to the economic woes, the stalled harvest meant the island had to turn to foreign aid to import tens of thousands of tonnes of rice alongside credit lines from India, depleting precious currency reserves.

Buddhi Marambe, professor of crop science at Sri Lanka’s University of Peradeniya, said rice production during the ongoing ‘yala’ or summer farming season across the country could average 2 million tonnes compared to the previous year. Fertilizers have reduced yield. Due to failure of timely supply of sufficient urea fertilizers, the yield has decreased to a great extent.

Sri Lanka was self-sufficient in rice for decades. After the first production without the use of fertilizers, 1 lakh 49 thousand tons of grain had to be bought last year. The country has already signed an agreement to import 4 lakh 24 thousand tons in 2022.

Marambe said imports may be needed to cover food shortages in the first two months of 2023 or until the ‘big’ crop planted in September is harvested.

Government spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment on the food situation and possible imports.

Rice is the staple food and the largest crop of the country’s 2.2 million people. According to government data, 8.1 million people are engaged in fishing and agriculture in the country’s large rural economy. And 2 crore people are rice farmers.

(16 Aug)