Viewpoint: Sri Lanka announces plans to ban agrochemical imports on path toward going 100% organic. It didn’t work in Cuba and here’s why it won’t work here

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Credit: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
[Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s] decision to shift totally to organic agriculture, from conventional, could lead to widespread hunger and starvation as it happened in Cuba in the 1990s.

Organic farming is a small phenomenon in global agriculture comprising a mere 1.5% of total farmlands of which 66% is pasture. The world moved away from organic farming towards conventional (chemical) farming from the mid-19th century as the former could not support the rapidly growing global population then.

The truth is that the government is in a financial crisis for the debt to GDP ratio that stood at 94% in 2019, and was expected to rise to 110% in 2020. It is projected to grow in the succeeding years, ending at 120% by 2023. The decision to ban agrochemicals and move to organics, saving fertilizer costs and subsidies, is obviously because of this economic crunch!

Several studies have shown that the world population supportable without synthetic fertilizer is only just over 50% of the total.

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The President should have at least considered a five-year phased out programme, to move away gradually from conventional agriculture, training farmers in organic farming technologies, not that it will succeed!

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