The food crisis in Sri Lanka is man made, Acting President Ranil tells Global Forum

Ranil Wickremesinghe - Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. (BLOOMBERG / Buddhika Weerasinghe)

Sri Lanka’s Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe says that the issues which prevail in Sri Lanka with regard to hunger, are man made.

Speaking at an international Panel Discussion on Preventing Hunger and Famine, the acting President said that after the decision to ban fertiliser, which impacted Sri Lanka heavily, resulted in Sri Lanka having to import 1/3rd of its rice requirement from overseas.

Moreover, he says that at a time when the country is experiencing a shortage in foreign exchange, it is difficult to meet these demands.

The acting President also says that at the moment, Sri Lanka possesses enough stocks of rice for 5 months and imports for 3 months. However, in the absence of a solution for the ensuing four months, Sri Lanka will have to depend on other substitutes.

Therefore, the Prime Minister said that the Government is initiating a food security program, through which they can provide fertiliser for the maha season.

” Then, in 2023, we can be self-sufficient in rice and get the real economy functioning as far as agriculture is concerned,” Wickremesinghe said.

However, he stated that Sri Lanka has issues with the importation of fertiliser, as Sri Lanka needs 600 million dollars to import as at the moment Sri Lanka only possesses 300 million dollars.

Our economy is contracting, it will be about -6% this year, he added.

Moreover, the acting President emphasised that the loss of jobs during the year will be high, in addition to widespread hunger and the fuel crisis.

Pointing out that all this has resulted in political turbulence, Wickremesinghe questioned what other countries would do in such a situation.

“Asking people to tighten their belts alone will not do. We have to think out of the box, we can’t be thinking in conventional terms.What we need is a solution,” he said.

Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe also expressed his views in regard to the Russian Ukraine war and its effects on third world countries, questioning whether sanctions are meant to assist in overcoming the global shortage or is it hampering us.

“Do you think sanctions will help? it will only drag the prices up. So let’s start with the doables. Let us look at the sanctions that are being imposed and ask ourselves if this is necessary. The sanctions won’t bring Russia to its knees, but it will bring the rest of the third world to its knees,” he stated.

Furthermore, the acting President pointed out that just as much as other countries have granted Sri Lanka a sum of 14 billion dollars, 100 billion dollars is being spent on the Ukraine war by all the parties concerned that are supplying Ukraine.

“That cannot go on. It’s not only the fault of the EU. Russia has a responsibility too. They must call for a ceasefire and should not put the world in further sufferings,” he added.

(Commonwealth Union)