News

Government to pay farmers more if ban hits yield

  • Farmers’ groups raise concerns over food shortage

By Pamodi Waravita

 

The Government has stated that it would purchase paddy for a higher price if the ban on the import of chemical fertilisers affects the yield of farmers.

“The Government is ready to purchase paddy for a higher price than the guaranteed price if there is any reduction in the yield due to the use of organic fertilisers. The Government is also ready to bear the cost to ensure consumers can purchase rice at the existing prices,” the President’s Media Division (PMD) quoted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a statement issued to the press yesterday (12).

The statement further noted that the Government would provide the necessary facilities for companies that previously imported chemical fertilisers to start providing organic fertilisers, if they wish to do so.

However, the Jathika Govijana Ekamuthuwa (JGE), holding a press conference yesterday, questioned how compensation to farmers in lieu of any drop in the yield would help the food shortages that would be created in the country due to such.

“Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage on 30 April admitted that this ban on chemical fertilisers would create a food shortage. He promised compensation for the drop in the yield for the farmers. But how would that help the food shortage?” questioned All Island Farmers’ Federation (AIFF) Education Secretary K.D.P. Karunanayake.

He further questioned the plan for the importation of organic fertilisers and its suitability to the country’s soil.

“Our continuous principle has been that the Government must support organic farming in Sri Lanka. However, this immediate ban on the importation of chemical fertilisers brings about a number of challenges. Our environment and farmers have adapted to chemical fertilisers over a few decades now. A sudden stop to that would just make the black market richer,” said Karunanayake.

In an interview to The Morning, Lanka Organic Agriculture Movement (LOAM) President Thilak Kariyawasam also said that a transition period of a minimum of two years is necessary when farmers switch from chemical to organic fertilisers.

On 29 April, President Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka would become the first country in the world to take up the challenge of eliminating the use of chemical fertilisers, adding that necessary steps would be taken to facilitate the production of organic fertilisers at the district level.

In the same week, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal to ban all chemical fertilisers in Sri Lanka. The PMD also noted that government expenditure on non-communicable diseases such as kidney disease, which occurred in part due to the use of chemical fertilisers, is increasing each year.