Sri Lankan prisoners are to be enrolled in a new government scheme aimed at cultivating fertilisers following severe shortages caused by Sri Lanka's import ban on chemical fertilisers this year.
The scheme is being introduced by the Minister of Prisons, Prison Management and Prison Rehabilitation, Lohan Ratwatte, on the advice of the President. It will operate at selected prisons, including Batticaloa, Wariyapola, Watareka, Pallekele, Thaldena, Weerawila and Anuradhapura, Prisons Media Spokesperson Chandana Ekanayake stated.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to ban imported chemical fertilisers drew widespread criticism, especially from farmers. Many farmers have decried the ban as it was made without any consultations with them and has forced them to cut down on their crops due to the shortage of chemical fertilisers.
Last month, Sri Lanka’s former finance minister, Mangala Samaraweera, criticised the Government of Sri Lanka’s economic policy noting “severe shortage of fertiliser” in light of its economic crisis.
The US State Department has raised concerns over Sri Lanka's trade policy describing the island import regime as "one of the most complex and protectionist in the world"
The EU has also expressed concerns over Sri Lanka's import ban. EU First Councillor, Head of Political, Trade and Communications Section Thorsten Bargfrede commented on the ban stating:
“Over time, it can reduce the attractiveness to European investors and lead to uncertainty and changing regimes is now what investors look for”.