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Sri Lankan prime minister holds talks with UN officials amid food shortage

During his discussions with the UN officials, Wickremesinghe informed that the officials were devising a food security program, expected to be unveiled next month, in the wake of the situation. UN officials expressed their support for the initiative.

Jun 04, 2022
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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Amid the growing shortage of food, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has held discussions, separately, with officials of two agencies of the United Nations, seeking assistance to mitigate the crisis. Earlier this week, top officials of the island country warned of a severe food crisis in the coming weeks.

Vimlendra Sharan, the country head of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Malin Herwig, the deputy country head of the United Nations Development Program, met with Wickremesinghe on Friday to discuss the situation.

Faced with its worst-ever economic crisis since its independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has been struggling to import food, fuel, and other essentials. The country’s agriculture sector, earlier hit by the last year’s ban on chemical fertilizers, still struggling amid the massive shortage of fertilizers.

Agriculture production, according to experts, is likely to reduce by as much as 50 percent this season.  

During his discussions with the UN officials, Wickremesinghe informed that the officials were devising a food security program, expected to be unveiled next month, in the wake of the situation. UN officials expressed their support for the initiative.

Fertilizers and fuel shortages are hurting the agriculture sector, forcing many farmers to stay from sowing crops this season. The UNDP explained that they were compiling an innovative farming assistance program that would help the farming community overcome the fertilizer shortage.

Furthermore, authorities are also considering promoting urban farming and the FAO has assured that donors would help Colombo in the program.

Sri Lanka has also sought assistance from India and China for the supply of fertilizers. India, one of Colombo’s closest partners, has provided assistance worth over $3.5 billion so far this year, making it New Delhi’s largest assistance package in recent months to any single country.

Meanwhile, China has also started sending essential medicine to Sri Lanka, with the first shipment reaching the country on Friday. However, overall assistance from Beijing so far remained limited amid confusion over the pending debt restructuring talks.

(SAM)

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