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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

Sri Lankan fertiliser scheme in shambles due to lack........

[b]Sri Lankan fertiliser scheme in shambles due to lack of funds[/b]

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s much publicized election pledge to supply fertiliser to farmers at the subsidized price of 350 rupees ($US3.50) a 50kg bag is in disarray. The government has failed to release enough funds to provide adequate quantities of fertilizer at the cheaper prices. The debacle has also raises the question of how long the cash-strapped United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government can maintain the subsidies for farmers at all.

Lower fertilizer prices were one of Rajapakse’s main election pitches to rural voters. The country’s impoverished farmers face many problems, including rising costs for other essential items such as pesticides, as well as the onerous loans and low prices for their produce. Several farmers have been driven to suicide in recent months.

Conscious of growing rural discontent, Rajapakse’s new cabinet at its first meeting announced it would reduce fertilizer prices for paddy rice cultivation as well as for small growers of other crops.

The president then appointed a ministerial committee to assess how to implement the program. Agriculture Minister Maithripala Sirisena declared that the government would allocate 12 billion rupees annually to subsidy fertilizer prices.

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