BY Buddhika SamaraweeraGiven the economic difficulties faced by farmers due to the Government’s “overnight” 100% organic fertiliser programme, farmers will have to drink poison, claimed former President and incumbent Government Parliamentarian Maithripala Sirisena.Speaking to the media yesterday (24), he stated that the agriculture sector has already been destroyed due to the Government’s “overnight” 100% organic fertiliser programme. Claiming that it would take a long time to repair the damage caused to agriculture, Sirisena charged that Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda Aluthgamage is mainly responsible for it.“Direction towards the use of organic fertiliser is a good programme, but these are not things that can be done overnight. There is a huge crisis in agriculture right now. Aluthgamage is mainly responsible for that,” he claimed, adding that as the first step of directing the country towards the use of organic fertiliser, model cultivation should be done.Meanwhile, when queried by the media whether the Government should provide relief to farmers, he said that the main task the Government has is to provide relief to farmers, adding: “Farmers now have no relief. They will have to drink poison because of economic hardships.”A proposal to ban the use and importation of chemical fertiliser, pesticides, and herbicides/weedicides was submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the same was granted approval, following which the relevant gazette notification was issued on 6 May 2021.However, throughout the past few months, farmers in several areas were seen charging that there is a serious shortage of fertiliser for their cultivations, and a number of protests have also been organised by farmers’ organisations and various parties demanding that the Government provide a solution to the fertiliser shortage.Against this backdrop, the Government has decided to revoke the Extraordinary Gazette No. 2226/48 of 6 May 2021, which banned the importation of chemical fertilisers and agrochemicals including pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides/weedicides, and to thereby allow the private sector to import the same with effect from yesterday.