India on Sunday handed over more than 44,000 tonnes of urea under a line of credit granted to crisis-hit Sri Lanka as part of New Delhi’s ongoing effort to support the island nation’s farmers and strengthen bilateral cooperation for food security, the Indian government said High Commission here said.
Indian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay met Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera to update him on the arrival of more than 44,000 tonnes of urea.
The High Commissioner met the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and informed him of the arrival of more than 44,000 tons of urea shipped under a credit line granted by India to Sri Lanka, the Indian High Commission said in a tweet.
“The High Commissioner stressed that this latest assistance from #India symbolizes his ongoing commitment to support the people of Sri Lanka, including the farmers of #lka, and to strengthen efforts to ensure food security for the country’s citizens,” he added .
Last month, Amaraweera met with Baglay and asked for India’s help for food security and environmental protection in the island nation, which is facing the worst economic crisis in its post-independence history.
In May, India assured Sri Lanka that it would immediately deliver 65,000 tons of urea to avoid any disruption to the ongoing Yala growing season in Sri Lanka.
Yala is the rice-growing season in Sri Lanka, which lasts from May to August.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision last year to ban imports of chemical fertilizers to transform the country into a green economy has led to food shortages with crop losses of 50 percent.
Rajapaksa had admitted his decision to ban chemical fertilizers to go 100 percent organic was wrong.
Farmers have warned the country could face food shortages through mid-August amid the ongoing economic crisis.
India has pledged more than USD 3 billion in loans, credit lines and credit swaps to indebted Sri Lanka since January this year. Sri Lanka’s annual fertilizer imports cost US$400 million.
“It is recalled that India, in line with its Neighborhood First policy and as a serious friend and partner of Sri Lanka, has provided multifaceted assistance to the people of Sri Lanka in recent months,” the Indian High Commission said.
Assistance from India ranges from nearly US$3.5 billion in economic aid to ensuring Sri Lanka’s food, health and energy security by delivering basic commodities such as food, medicines, fuel, kerosene and other essentials.
The delivery of urea comes after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa offered his resignation on July 13 after thousands of protesters stormed his official residence on Saturday, blaming his government for an unprecedented economic crisis that has brought the country to its knees.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also announced his willingness to step down. But an angry mob did not spare his private house here and set it on fire.
Rajapaksa appears to have gone underground in the face of massive public anger over an unprecedented economic crisis since the country’s independence in 1948.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is experiencing unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, crippled by an acute foreign exchange shortage that has forced it to pay for essential imports of fuel and other essentials.
The country, struggling with an acute foreign currency crisis that has caused its external debt to default, announced in April that it was suspending nearly $7 billion in repayments due this year of around $25 billion in external debt maturing by 2026.
The total foreign debt of Sri Lanka is USD 51 billion.
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