The National Movement for a Just Society issuing a special statement emphasized that we should totally move from the use of chemical fertilizers, systematically without weakening the national food safety.
The statement issued by the General Secretary of the National Movement for a Just Society Palitha Lihiniya Kumara states as follows.
Chemical fertilizer ban should be done systematically without undermining national food security
It was reported recently that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa intends to completely halt the importation of chemical fertilizers to the country. The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) believes that such a decision must only be implemented according to a well planned programme based on scientifically based research after conducting extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders.
The draft National Agriculture Policy which was formulated in line with the President's Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour development policy framework, is now seeking observations and comments from stakeholders and the public. In such a situation, it is important that they take steps to clarify the President's position regarding fertilizers and announce the relevant timelines of implementation to the public.
Sri Lanka is a country that has a relatively high usage of chemical fertilizers. Negative consequences caused on human lives through the pollution of waterways and groundwater due to the use of chemical fertilizers have been observed and therefore it is in the best interest of the country to avoid the use of such chemical fertilizers.
Sri Lanka has achieved great progress in the field of agriculture since independence. The use of chemical fertilizers has also contributed to the increase in the productivity of other crops, including self-sufficiency in rice, the staple food of the people.
Observing how the Indian state of Sikkim completely eliminated the use of chemical fertilizers will be crucial in implementing the President's decision to move the country towards organic agriculture. The state of Sikkim, situated in an ecological hotspot, decided to transition to organic farming in 2003, when it was regarded as one of the regions that used the least amount of chemical fertilizers in India. The transition was carried out in a systematic manner over a period of 14 years and was successfully completed in 2016.
Meeting requirements related to the production of organic fertilizer is one of the challenges Sikkim is facing today. The yield per hectare of paddy has increased from 2 tons to about 5 tons since the 1960s. According to agronomists, the amount of nitrogen removed in a hectare of paddy is over 100 tons per year. To maintain productivity, huge amounts of nutrients need to be added back to the soil in order to replenish it. It is important to create an environment in which local fertilizer production can also meet such requirements. Furthermore, Sri Lanka consists of 46 agro-ecological regions and as such, the unique attributes of each region should be taken into account when formulating a national policy.
￼We emphasize the importance of implementing a policy based on scientific data on a wide range of issues such as Sri Lanka's food security, commercial competitiveness in agriculture, agro-ecological diversity, etc. with regard to Sri Lanka's transition towards organic agriculture. We would like to reiterate that all reforms should be carried out with the participation and consent of all relevant stakeholders including the various farming communities and farmers' organisations.
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