Colombo, The Sri Lankan government has confirmed that the urea imported from India is suitable for paddy cultivation and other crops, according to a media report on Tuesday, amidst indications that the crisis-hit country may encounter a food shortage by mid-August.
Sri Lanka on Sunday received 44,000 metric tonnes of urea, the first consignment of 65,000 MT urea to be provided under the Indian loan assistance programme as part of New Delhi’s ongoing efforts to support the country’s farmers and help bolster bilateral cooperation for food security.
The samples of the urea were sent to a local laboratory and the National Fertiliser Secretariat received the report on the biuret content of the fertiliser on Monday afternoon, the Ministry of Agriculture said as quoted by Internet newspaper colombopage.com.
According to news portal newsfirst.lk, the Fertiliser Secretariat has confirmed that the urea imported from India is suitable for Sri Lanka’s paddy cultivation and other crops.
The government report states that the biurate percentage of the urea is 0.9 per cent. Previously, three international laboratory reports were obtained regarding the fertiliser and those reports stated that the percentage of biurate is 0.65 per cent, it said.
Generally, the biurate percentage of urea used in Sri Lanka is 1 per cent.
Accordingly, arrangements have been made to distribute the urea to agricultural service centres across the island by Ceylon Commercial Fertiliser Company.
Last month, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera met Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay and sought India’s help for food security and environmental protection in the island nation, as it faces the worst economic crisis in its post-independence history.
In May, India assured Sri Lanka to immediately supply 65,000 metric tonnes of urea to avoid any disruption to the current Yala cultivation season in Sri Lanka.
Yala is the season of paddy cultivation in Sri Lanka that lasts between May and August.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision last year to ban chemical fertiliser imports in order to turn into a green economy has caused a food shortage with crop losses amounting to 50 per cent.
Rajapaksa later admitted that his decision to ban chemical fertilisers to go 100 per cent organic was wrong.
Agriculturists have warned that the country may encounter a food shortage by mid-August in the ongoing economic crisis.
India has committed more than USD 3 billion to debt-ridden Sri Lanka in loans, credit lines and credit swaps since January this year. Sri Lanka’s annual fertiliser imports cost USD 400 million.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, crippled by an acute shortage of foreign exchange that has left it struggling to pay for essential imports of fuel, and other essentials.
The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026.
Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion. PTI