International humanitarian aid, including medicine, for cash-strapped Lanka – The Island
By Ifham Nizam
The Movement of Academics for Safeguarding Agriculture (AMSA) Sri Lanka, a concerned academic group representing faculties of agriculture and technology, yesterday stressed that they would not allow a repeat of last year’s mistake when the government decided on a fertilizer policy. it was a disaster for the country’s economy, particularly affecting the farming community.
Senior Professor Buddhi Marambe from the Faculty of Agriculture (University of Peradeniya) pointed out that they are now of the opinion that they should have exposed the havoc wreaked on farmers by government policy.
“Today marks a calendar year since that irrational decision to ban imports of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, two important categories of agricultural inputs that have contributed significantly to the achievement of national food security over the past six decades,” said Professor Marambe.
He, however, maintained that the abrupt decision taken at the start of the 2021 Yala season to switch to full organic farming from the 2021/2022 Maha season had been met with strong resistance from many scientists in the world. field of agriculture.
Professor WAJM de Costa, Senior Professor and Chair of Crop Science, Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, told reporters that scientists, academics and a range of stakeholder groups had pleaded with the government to reverse the decision soon without causing an imminent threat to food security.
However, all these efforts were in vain, Prof Marambe said, adding “We are now experiencing the impact of a man-made disaster”.
He said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s recent statement that his decision not to supply chemical fertilizers was a mistake spoke volumes about the negative impacts of the unfortunate decision taken a year ago.
The new Minister of Agriculture, upon taking office, had pledged to import chemical fertilizers and regain self-sufficiency status in rice, the AMSA team said.
They also said that Sri Lanka needs around 2.3 to 2.4 million tons of rice every year. With the exception of 2016 and 2017, when large parts of Sri Lanka experienced prolonged drought, the country’s rice production had exceeded its requirements since 2008.
“However, things have changed drastically since the Maha season of 2021/2022, as the country is now more dependent on imported rice from other countries like Myanmar, India, Pakistan and China.”
AMSA consists of a group of academics concerned with agriculture who have come together as a think tank and lobby group to voice their opinions and proposals for the revival and further development of Sri Lankan agriculture in as a dynamic component of the national economy.
This movement emerged in response to the unscientific and unprofessional approach taken to agriculture by the government with the support of so-called intellectuals with half-baked science, especially on agriculture. During the press conference, AMSA said that it will present the achievable short and medium term work plans aimed at reviving Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector by addressing the following segments, particularly focusing on the segment of plant production.
(a) Provision of agricultural inputs: seeds and planting materials, fertilizers, pesticides, machinery and service-oriented functions such as precision farming technologies (b) Crop management packages: Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), including including Integrated Plant Nutrient Systems (IPNS) and Integrated Pest Management Systems (IPM) (c) Increase local and export market potential: post-harvest processing, value addition, market models and approach of the food system.