Sri Lanka ends farm chemical ban as organic drive fails

Creator: Zbynek Pospisil | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

This article talks about an interesting policy decision by the Sri Lankan government that has backfired very badly on its own farmers.

So the story is that a few months back, the Sri Lankan president announced that we are banning the import of all the chemical fertilizers, saying that Sri Lanka will become the world’s first completely organic country. Now, this sounds good, but such kind of a decision taken overnight can have a disastrous impact, which is exactly what happened in Sri Lanka. There are multiple reports that suggest that whenever any country or any city opts for organic agriculture, it will always reduce the amount of crop production, which is the side effect of going organic.

This happened when Sri Lanka’s cropping season had already begun and the farmers were in need of chemical fertilizers. They could buy whatever was available in the market, but no import was allowed in the entire country. The government also announced that the farmers don’t need to worry. If there is a loss of production, then the government will compensate them. The reason why I wrote this article is because of the protest that was held a few weeks ago in the entire country of Sri Lanka by farmers and other people who did not support this policy, the government, finally on the 24th of November, was forced to lift this ban.

So on the 24th of November, the private sector was allowed to resume importing fertilizers from around the world and help the farmers with the supply. But between May and November, a lot of things happened in the country which this article will talk about. It is a well-accepted practice that organic farming is a good initiative, but extremely difficult to sustain. That is why only 1.5% of the global farmland is practising organic farming.

The president of Sri Lanka also did not take into consideration that the local production of fertilisers in Sri Lanka is far lesser than their requirement. Against the requirement of 15 million tonnes of compost, Sri Lanka only produced 3 million tonnes at the end of August 2021. This is where the story takes an interesting turn.

When the protest started from farmers and other people against the policy, the Sri Lankan government said, “OK, we will import some biofertilizers which are organic in nature,” and they gave a contract to a Chinese company.

Now imagine when you are expecting China to deliver something which is extremely pure, what will happen?

So what happened was two Chinese companies were given this order and the samples that these Chinese companies sent, both were contaminated. That is, both of them had chemicals and they were not organic at all, meaning that the plan again failed. Now, under increased pressure, the government of Sri Lanka had no option but to approach India and the Indian organisation IFFCO that is Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd was asked to export their liquid nano and fertilizer to Sri Lanka.

Now there are two things that you must understand. Number one, this liquid nano fertiliser from IFFCO has been tested to be completely organic. However, the nitrogen content in this liquid fertilizer is much lower than what the farmers actually required. 2.5 litres of this product only provides 100 grams of nitrogen. When the paddy crop requires at least 50 kg of nitrogen, which is much higher than what was given to them by the government. However, since there was no other option, IFFCO got into the action with the help of the Indian government and we have started supplying this liquid fertiliser to Sri Lanka, which has now been given to their farmers. As expected, this has resulted in a much lower production of food grains in the country, forcing the Sri Lankan government to import food from outside.

Now just look at the irony of this. The Sri Lankan government is importing food from outside, which again would not be organic, which means the same thing could have been produced in Sri Lanka itself if the government would not have banned these things. Realising its mistake, the Sri Lankan government on the 24th of November lifted the ban on chemical fertilizers and allowed the private sector to import this. But the impact of lesser grain production will be seen in Sri Lanka in the coming weeks as well.

As the story ends here, but there’s a very interesting side note about this story. That is, it gives a chance for India to revive its relationship with Sri Lanka.

When the Sri Lankan government needed organic fertilizers, they asked two Chinese companies to import them. Now, what happened was these Chinese companies were told that you send your fertilizers to Sri Lanka and after the fertilisers come here, our people’s bank of Sri Lanka, which is also in China, will release the money to it. So when they sent their fertilizers and Sri Lanka check that they are not organic, there is contamination, obviously, the People’s Bank of Sri Lanka refused to give them the money, leading to the Chinese government becoming very angry. So angry that China has blacklisted the People’s Bank of Sri Lanka. Thus deteriorating the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

On the other hand, India has been trying to come closer to Sri Lanka now. How?

A few weeks back, Sri Lanka requested 500 million dollars of a credit line from India because it is facing a shortage of crude oil and it has to import more and most probably India will agree to this. Not just this, India has also offered Sri Lanka to develop the oil tank farms to develop its own strategic oil reserves in Trincomalee, which is on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka. A few weeks back, there was also news that India’s Adani Group has finalized a project to develop the West Container Terminal at the Colombo port. In this project, the Adani Group will be a 51% majority stake partner, thus indicating that the relationship between India and Sri Lanka is on the rise and India is using this opportunity for its own benefit.

Before I end this, there is another very interesting thing I wanted to share with you. We talk a lot about political dynasties in India. But let me show you how a real dynasty works. This is called the Rajapaksa Dynasty. The Rajapaksa family in Sri Lanka controls 24% of Sri Lanka’s entire budget. So Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a Sri Lankan president right now. He’s also the Minister of Defense and Minister of Technology. His brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is a prime minister. Along with that, he also handles Finance Ministry, Cultural Affairs Ministry, Urban Development Ministry. Their other brother, Basil Rajapaksa, is the chairman of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival. Another brother, Chamal Rajapaksa, is a Minister of Irrigation, Home Affairs, Security, Disaster Management. Their Sister’s son Nipuna Ranawaka is a member of Parliament and so on. Out of the total 30 cabinet post in Sri Lanka, 7 of them are handled just by the Rajapaksa family. Now, this is what you call a real political dynasty.

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Hi, I am Vishnu, and I have been a blogger for more than 2 years now; and I will provide some knowledgeable current international news to my readers.

Riverdale, GA

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