With fuel shortages raging across the country and prices skyrocketing as the currency rapidly depreciates and foreign exchange reserves dwindle, Sri Lankans are struggling to access food, among other things. Domestic production of pulses such as black mung bean and green mung bean has returned, and this year’s yields look promising as farmers prepare to enter the export market, which is showing good prices, according to the report. World Pulse Confederation (GPC).
Imports are extremely important. Sri Lanka is struggling to adjust to a global trading environment strained by transport problems, inflation and soaring commodity prices. The abrupt shift to all-organic farming may have exacerbated the crisis, but the motivation behind the transition – reducing foreign spending on imports, of which fertilizers account for 1.6% – has potential long-term benefits for agriculture in the country, according to the confederation in a press release.
“Due to the crisis, the government and the Department of Agriculture are laying the groundwork for restructuring the domestic production of certain crops,” said Mahmud Abdel Cader, CEO of Pulses Splitting and Processing Industry. “The idea is to promote and encourage the local production of certain types of legumes that were previously grown in the country.
Sri Lanka, which was self-sufficient in black matpe and green mung bean until the 1990s – two essential foodstuffs whose imports have been restricted in recent years – is reconsidering domestic cultivation.
“A first change was to consider growing locally in order to replace some imported pulses, banned by the government, with locally produced pulses. As a result, the focus is now on developing and starting production of two types of pulses, black mung beans and black matpe, to see what levels of self-sufficiency they can achieve,” Cader said in the communicated.
Under interim President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the opening of food imports in June, along with lines of credit offered to China and India, are helping to reduce the threat of a food crisis.
Importantly, this financial assistance facilitates the transition to increased domestic production, and although crop yields for farmers who choose to grow Sri Lankan pulses bring small rewards, he added.
Despite production not meeting Ministry of Agriculture targets for this year’s crops, production levels of black matpe and green mung beans were higher than expected: final volumes in June 2022 reached about 2,000 and 5,000 tons, respectively. Yields of cowpea for the Yala harvest were estimated at around 4,000 tons.
“Of course, the main challenge is to keep production levels stable and close to families’ needs,” said Rajendren Gnanasambanthan, president of the Association of Essential Food Importers and Traders.
“In the meantime, local cultures are adapting to new levels of production; for example, green mung bean and cowpea are doing very well in terms of yields, and farmers are increasing their production for export purposes because the market price for these types of pulses is very good at the moment.”
First published on: August 13, 2022, 01:29 IST