JVP: “Gotabaya-made” food shortage imminent

Bimal Rathnayake - JVP

The JVP last week warned of an imminent food shortage in the country soon and said that the crisis was nothing but a ‘Gotabaya-made disaster.’

Addressing a press conference held at their party headquarters in Pelawatte, the JVP National Organiser and former MP Bimal Rathnayake said that all present problems could not be attributed to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The prevailing food shortage is because of the ill-advised decision made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with regard to organic fertilizers. COVID-19 had nothing to do with it. The food crisis is nothing but a ‘Gotabaya-made disaster,” Rathnayake said.

He said that the decision made by the President was a short-sighted imprudent one. “There is a shortage of food items in the market. The shortage was created by a policy decision to shift from chemical to organic fertilizers on an ad hoc basis resulting in disrupting cultivation. The shortage resulted in price increases. The government has puppets as ministers who cannot control the market prices.

“It is Dudley Sirisena who decides the prices of paddy and rice. Some private companies providing goods and services do the same. They set the prices as they wish and the ministers cannot do anything about it. As a result. producers don’t get what they deserve and consumers are fleeced. Middlemen make a killing,” Rathnayake said.

Countering the JVP allegation Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage insisted that there would be no food shortage in the country next year.

He estimated the Maha paddy harvest to be down 25% or 30% according to reports from Agriculture officers working countrywide.

Import of fertilizer for vegetable and other cultivation has been permitted, and there is no likelihood of a vegetable shortage as fertilizer stocks will be available in January. Needs of other crops too are being addressed.

Information on paddy lands cultivated countrywide during the Maha season was obtained at a workshop held in Colombo on Thursday (23) with the participation of senior officials of the Ministry of Agriculture including the Deputy Commissioners of Agriculture and Agrarian Development and Provincial Directors of Agriculture posted countrywide.

According to the officials, 90 to 95 percent of the paddy lands in each district have already been cultivated.

There is no room for food shortages in the country and the views expressed by certain groups in this regard cannot be accepted, the Minister said.

(Source: The Island – By Sirimanta Ratnasekera)