The government yesterday said 11,000 acres of abandoned paddy lands would be cultivated before the end of this year, in order to prepare for the potential food crisis.

Agriculture State Minister Priyadarshana De Silva said the programme to cultivate abandoned paddy land is being implemented through the Agrarian Development Department and the government has allocated Rs.420 million for that.

De Silva pointed out that the export of rice has been temporarily halted by Pakistan and India, in order to deal with a potential future global food crisis and as a result, some countries are already experiencing a shortage in rice supplies.

“Therefore, as a country, we must likewise get ready to deal with this calamity. The government cannot improve the country’s agriculture industry alone. Support from everyone is necessary for that,” he said.

The agricultural sector accounts for 7.5 percent of Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product.

Sri Lanka’s yearly demand for rice is approximately 2.4 million metric tonnes. However, this year’s rice harvest is projected to reach 2.7 million metric tonnes, creating a surplus of 300,000 metric tonnes of rice.

In this backdrop, De Silva said it is unlikely for Sri Lanka to face a food crisis in the future.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has also issued directives prohibiting the release of rice reserves for beer manufacturing.