1. Agriculture World

Sri Lanka's Bold Step towards Organic Farming A Recipe For Economic Disaster: Experts

Abin Joseph
Abin Joseph
Organic tomatoes
Organic Tomatoes

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has formed a high-level task force to make the government's green agriculture programme a success, thereby strengthening the sector's contribution to long-term socioeconomic development. This decision has come five months after the government prohibited all chemical fertilizers and switched to organic fertilizers.

However, Sri Lankan farmers are still protesting against the Rajapaksa government's abrupt shift to an “organic fertilizer” only policy. 

Although the policy shift started in May, according to the Agriculture Ministry the decision on banning and restricting fertilizer imports was taken in August after Chinese organic fertilizer imports were found to have the presence of harmful bacterium like Erwina twice. 

Prior to this, the Sri Lankan government had agreed to buy 99,000 metric tonnes of organic fertilizer from China's Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co ltd for $63 million. 

Agriculture experts throughout the island nation have repeatedly slammed this hasty decision taken by its Government. The farmers are also a bit incensed as they were left without any agricultural fertilizer for the production of food in the Maha cropping season, they also are severely concerned about the drop in the yield rate due to the usage of organic fertilizer. 

Hence the formation of a task force is aimed at quickly sorting out the fertilizer availability problem before the end of the sowing period of the Maha cropping season and also to alleviate the anxiety of the farmers  

However agricultural experts are not at all optimistic about this as they have already predicted a drop in the GDP of the nation due to this move. According to a letter sent by Sri Lanka Agricultural Economics Association (SAEA) According to agronomic studies, if chemical fertilizers are completely replaced by organic fertilizers, paddy yields can drop by 25%. If paddy crop is cultivated only using organic fertilizers and rice imports are prohibited, this loss in productivity might cut paddy farming profitability by 33% and rice consumption by 27%. 

There would also be a 35 % productivity drop in the production of Vegetatively Propagated Tea (VPT) bringing down the export volume of tea from 279 to 181 million kg, causing an income loss of Rs. 84 billion.

The coconut yields would also go down by 30% if inorganic fertilizers are not used. 

This shows the economic crisis that the island nation has placed itself in on its quest to become 100% organic in a fortnight. This has been further exacerbated by the pandemic, inflation, and hoarding of essential food items. 

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