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India will be supplying 65,000 metric tonnes of urea to Sri Lanka to avoid any disruption in paddy cultivation as it faces the worst economic crisis in its post-independence history.

High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in New Delhi Milinda Moragoda met with the Secretary of the Department of Fertilisers Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi in New Delhi on Thursday to discuss the supply of urea required for the current Yala cultivation season in Sri Lanka, according to media reports here on Saturday.

Moragoda thanked Chaturvedi for India's decision to supply 65,000 MT of urea required for paddy crop.

The Government of India has decided to supply this quantity of urea immediately to Sri Lanka at the request of the Government of Sri Lanka, despite a ban on export of urea from India.

In response, Chaturvedi said that his Department is always ready to support Sri Lanka in keeping with India's 'neighbourhood first' policy, and that the Department is making arrangements to ship the required quantity of urea from the nearest port to Sri Lanka through a State Company coming under his purview.

India has committed more than $3 billion to debt-ridden Sri Lanka in loans, credit lines and credit swaps since January this year.

Yala is the season of paddy cultivation in Sri Lanka that lasts between May and August.

Sri Lanka is aiming to boost its agriculture sector to avoid any disruption in the agriculture market.

The Sri Lankan government banned chemical fertilisers last year as part of a phased transition towards organic agriculture. The dearth of adequate supplies of organic fertilisers affected agricultural output, especially rice and tea, and the government recently ended the ban on several key crops.

Sri Lanka’s annual fertiliser imports cost $400 million. Farmers across Sri Lanka have intensified their protests due to the lack of fertiliser and being compelled to abandon their farmlands.

The chemical fertiliser ban, combined with bad weather, led to falling crop yields and contributed to inflation hitting a 47-month high of 8.3 per cent in October with food inflation at 11.7 per cent, Daily Mirror, an online news portal said.

Sri Lanka has more than 2 million farmers and up to 70% of its 22 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture.

Sri Lanka's economic crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.

The crisis has provoked widespread protests calling for political reform and the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

On April 1, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa imposed a state of emergency, lifting it five days later. The government reimposed a state of emergency on May 6 after police fired teargas and arrested students protesting near parliament, which was adjourned until May 17.

The political crisis was triggered in late March when people hurt by long hours of power cuts and essential shortages took to the streets demanding the resignation of the government.

On Monday, his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as the prime minister to make way for the president to appoint an interim all political party government. Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed the country's new prime minister on Thursday.

India has said it looked forward to working with the new Sri Lankan government.

(With PTI inputs)

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