‘Devastating repercussions’: Sri Lanka’s plan to ban agrochemicals and go 100% organic could result in famine, expert says

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Credit: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Can Sri Lanka with a population of nearly 22 million and a landmass of 65,000 square kms and a per capita GDP of less than $4,000 be 100 per cent organic overnight?

So called organic fertilisers are defined as organic manure due to their very low nutrient contents. A kilogram of urea contains 460 grams of nitrogen or 46 per cent whereas a kg of compost contains 30 grams of nitrogen unless the manufacturer “adds” urea solution during the manufacturing process. The farmer has to add 15 times more manure to obtain the same quantity of nitrogen that is given by urea. Moreover, only 3 per cent of the nitrogen applied by way of compost is readily available to the plant. The balance 97 per cent will have to be broken down by soil microorganisms and will be available within 12-18 months.

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The decision to immediately ban imports will have devastating repercussions and inevitable food security issues in a few seasons, perhaps leading to a famine in the country. Pundits who promoted this would not be there to answer the public when it happens, and the government will solely be answerable for its decision.

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