Colombo, Sri Lanka –
On Saturday, the United States announced US$40 million in aid to purchase fertilizers and other key agricultural inputs in time for the next crop in crisis-stricken Sri Lanka.
USAID Administrator Samantha Power, who is visiting Sri Lanka, made the announcement after she met with farmer representatives in Ja-Ela, a suburb of Colombo. She said the amount will be in addition to the previously announced US$6 million to support low-income farmers.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis and severe shortages of essential commodities such as food, fuel and medicine due to lack of foreign currency to pay for imports. Agricultural productivity has more than halved in the past two crops as authorities have banned the import of chemical fertilizers to promote organic farming.
“The farmers I just met described the enormous challenges the economic crisis poses to them and their families and communities. They describe phenomena that were unimaginable two years ago, three years,” Power told reporters.
According to the World Food Program, more than 6 million people – almost 30% of Sri Lanka’s population – are currently facing food insecurity and need humanitarian assistance, she said.
Power said the money will help 1 million farmers in the near future start the next crop.
Sri Lanka has reached a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a $2.9 billion aid package over four years. However, the program hinges on securing debt restructuring from creditors after the country announced that it would stop repaying its foreign loans.
Sri Lanka’s total external debt amounts to more than 51 billion USD, of which 28 billion USD must be paid by 2027.