Sri Lanka's Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera on Saturday was jeered by a group of farmers who protested his visit to an agriculture-related programme in Tissamaharama, a town situated in the country's southern province in Hambantota district, forcing him to flee the premises.
Amaraweera visited the Tissamaharama Divisional Secretariat on Saturday to attend an agriculture-related programme. Upon his arrival, a group of angry locals, consisting mostly of farmers, gathered opposite the local government body and staged a protest, according to web portal newsfirst.lk.
When the minister attempted to inquire, chaos broke out forcing the minister to flee the premises, the report added.
Sri Lanka's economic meltdown has taken a severe toll on the agricultural sector.
A blanket ban on the use of chemical fertilisers imposed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in April 2021 has caused 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 out of the country's 22 million population could be directly affected by 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 move to grant government officials one leave per week for the next three months to engage in agriculture to mitigate the approaching food crisis.
The Sri Lanka Army will also take part in a farming drive aimed at cultivating over 1,500 acres of barren or abandoned state land to multiply food production and avert any shortage in the future, newsfirst.lk reported.
Sri Lanka which is facing its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.
The economic crisis has led to an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas, fuel and toilet paper, with Sri Lankans being forced to wait in lines for hours outside stores to buy fuel and cooking gas.
The nearly bankrupt country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, 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.
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