‘Uncertain and confused’: Sri Lankan farmers facing government’s ‘misguided’ ban on all synthetic chemicals fear sustainable farming will be unattainable

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Gonagala Turmeric farmer Dayarathne Bandara. Credit: SAPP
Gonagala Turmeric farmer Dayarathne Bandara. Credit: SAPP

The [Sri Lankan Cabinet of Ministers recently] approved President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s proposal to ban the importation of chemical fertilisers. In addition to synthetic fertilisers, the importation of synthetic pesticides whether they are CLASS 1A or Class1B (Toxic) or Class 2 Less toxic is also banned. 

Does the country have the capacity and capability to produce a large amount of organic fertilisers in the short-run for [the September to March] Maha season? Secondly, the methodology as regards the application of such a huge quantity of natural fertilisers has not been defined. Farmers across the country are already facing a shortage of fertilisers and pesticides for the current [May to August] Yala season although the authorities claim adequate stocks are available… Such experiences in the past are the reasons why farmers are uncertain and confused as regards the ban on the import of agrochemicals.

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No country in the world depends entirely on organic agriculture for crop production as the plant varieties bred after the green revolution in the 1960s are fertilizer responsive and will give the maximum yield only with correct fertilizer application. The ban on synthetic fertilizer has a drastic effect on tea and rice yields.

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