Sri Lanka's government asks workers to take Fridays off to engage in farming

The government of Sri Lanka has asked all public sector workers to take every Friday off duty to engage in backyard farming.

The move is aimed at averting the imminent food shortage that the South Asian island country faces.

Interestingly, workers will not lose their wages for absenting themselves from work on Fridays for the next three months to grow food crops for themselves.

Reports say the country has been battling with economic challenges, resulting in shortages of several staple foods, coupled with the high cost of petrol and medicine, as well as high inflation.

Theguardian.com quotes a cabinet statement saying: "It seems appropriate to grant government officials leave for one working day of the week and provide them with the necessary facilities to engage in agricultural activities in their backyards."

Aside from using the Fridays for farming as a "solution to the food shortage that is expected to occur in the future", the cabinet statement added that the move would equally help reduce fuel consumption because of a reduction in commuting by workers.

The desperate move by the government of Sri Lanka follows a warning by the United Nations that the country faces a dire humanitarian crisis, with four out of five people in the country of 22 million already being compelled to skip meals.

Aside from the shortage of food and other necessities, Sri Lanka is also urging any of its 1.5 million public sector workers who wish to travel abroad for greener pastures to do so, adding that their seniority or pension would remain intact.

Reports say the government’s aim is to encourage more people to get foreign jobs and send money as remittance to salvage the shortage of foreign currency that the country needs badly to buy imports.

Sri Lanka has defaulted on its $51bn foreign debt and is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.

The country is facing economic hardship, causing protests with calls for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign over mismanagement of the economy.

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