Sri Lankan Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera was taunted on Saturday by a group of farmers who protested his visit to an agriculture-related program in Tissamaharama, a town in the country’s southern province, in Hambantota district, forcing him to flee the scene.
Amaraweera visited the Tissamaharama divisional secretariat on Saturday to attend an agriculture-related program. Upon arrival, a group of angry locals, mostly farmers, gathered in front of the local government body and staged a protest, according to web portal newsfirst.lk.
When the minister attempted to investigate, chaos erupted, forcing the minister to flee the scene, the report added.
Sri Lanka’s economic collapse has wreaked havoc on the agricultural sector.
A blanket ban on the use of chemical fertilizers imposed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in April 2021 has dealt a crippling blow to rice production in the country.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has predicted that by September this year around four to five million of the country’s 22 million people could be directly affected by the food shortage.
In such a grim scenario, farmers across the island nation have been forced to abandon their fields.
Earlier this week, the Cabinet also approved a decision to grant government officials one week off for the next three months to engage in farming to ease the approaching food crisis.
The Sri Lankan military will also participate in an agricultural campaign aimed at cultivating more than 1,500 acres of barren or abandoned state land to multiply food production and avoid any shortages in the future, newsfirst.lk reported.
Sri Lanka, which is facing its worst economic crisis since its independence from Britain in 1948.
The economic crisis has led to severe shortages of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas, fuel and toilet paper, with Sri Lankans forced to queue for hours outside shops to buy fuel and cooking gas.
The country on the verge of bankruptcy, with an acute currency crisis that led to a default on external debt payments, announced in April that it was suspending the repayment of nearly $7 billion in external debt due for this year on approximately $25 billion due through 2026.
Sri Lanka’s total external debt stands at $51 billion.
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