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The nationalistic policies of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa have resulted in food shortages as his government struggles under a growing pile of foreign debt.   © Nikkei montage/Source photos by Reuters and Getty Images
Asia Insight

Sri Lanka faces food shortages and a meager New Year

Organic agriculture stunts crop yields, forcing lean times on debt-ridden nation

MARWAAN MACAN-MARKAR, Asia regional correspondent | Sri Lanka

RAMBEWA, Sri Lanka -- Gentle mounds of freshly harvested but sickly looking maize are spread over a black plastic sheet at a farmhouse in Rambewa, a village in the north-central Sri Lankan district of Anuradhapura.

"This is a very bad season, the worst for us," said Ranasinghe Arachige Swarna, her eyes moist with tears. "I pawned my gold chain, got loans, but now will not have money to pay the debts," the 50-year-old said. Maize, a popular crop in South Asia, is used in animal feed for the poultry industry. In a good year, local farmers produce 300,000 metric tons, about half of the annual requirement.

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