29 July, 2021

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Come Or Go – 100% Or Nothing

By Upatissa Pethiyagoda

Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda

In one of the most bold and decisive steps undertaken by the present Government, is the decision to ban the import of chemical fertilizers (and perhaps also pesticides, fungicides and weed-killers) with immediate effect, in the quest of a “Wasa visa nethi Krushi Karmaya” set against our “Saubagyamath Dekma”. We are told that this is a vision spelt out clearly in the election Manifest of the “Pohottuwa Party” and duly endorsed by no less than 6.7 million voters. We do not have time to lose, and even the necessary Gazette notice has been issued and the implementation is now on. (with immediate effect, irrespective of opposition from anywhere). Those who are old enough, will remember the disaster that followed the “Sinhala only in 24 hours” adventure. This was in 1956 and 65 years ago, and a whole generation virtually isolated from  profiting fully  from the vast technical  advances of the last six decades plus. It also contributed towards a devastating thirty year orgy of destruction. We are still paying the bill. The present action echoes, “My mind is already made up. Please don’t confuse me with facts”. Also those who oppose these changes are in the pay of multi-nationals. On this, I feel short-changed. With more than six decades of involvement in plant science, a good part related to nutrient- related work, I was not gifted even a Christmas Hamper by the evil  MN’s.

Some thirty odd Agricultural Specialists, have urged caution, while agreeing that a judicious mix of Organic and Mineral, will be the best, but it needs time. I wonder how Paediatrician Dr Padeniya would feel if his patients seek guidance of a Soil Chemist and Ven Rathana feel if someone of his flock seeks spiritual guidance from his Hairdresser. Mr. Mahindananda Aluthgamage  (these days every politician is adorned  with a doctorate) speaks cockily about ample stocks of fertilizer for the current Yala, although there may be a “slight difficulty” in the upcoming Maha, but this can easily be met by imports of compost,” readily available on the International market” with the aplomb of an ignoramus. The accompanying viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, worms, caterpillars and heavy metals come with no charge. Let Aluthgamage, Minister of Agriculture step into the midst of irate Paddy Farmers crying for fertilizer for their fields and repeat that tale. Mr. PM, please urge caution with measured progress towards a goal, widely considered the best, dictated by sound professional backing. Please be reminded that the progress has been achieved in the field of optimum fertilizer recommendations, arising from painstaking and acclaimed effort.

They are the fruits of careful scientific research, by our scientists through controlled and careful studies spanning nearly a century, by our Department of Agriculture, and Research Institutes for Tea, Rubber, Coconut, Minor Export Crops, and Sugar. Yes but there will be no uniformity – each set of circumstances is unique and requires due consideration. It is not a “one size fits all” situation.

It is also deeply insulting and hurtful, to suggest that all our scientists are “in the pay of multinationals.” when they find the scientific evidence inconsistent with political dogma. It is puerile and stupid to ascribe vile reasons when evidence runs counter to what one believes. Faith is what makes you believe in something you know to be false.  

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Latest comments

  • 9
    1

    I believe the main reason for banning the import of chemical fertilizers is the lack of funds – foreign exchange.

    The effect of this crazy action will be felt when agricultural production falls, especially rice production and a famine may result. It may be felt in a matter of months.

    They are talking of importing rice already because the rice price has risen may due to expected shortfall in production. I wonder where they will find the foreign exchange if rice production falls drastically? Borrow more money from China?

    Widespread rioting, which is a well known weapon to the majority community may follow.

  • 3
    0

    Famine in Africa can be attributed to nature but in SL, it would be the govt., yet there will be those in denial who will say it’s for the greater good. I sincerely hope a famine will be averted but in a worst case scenario, I am sure China will be happy to provide ‘sticky’ rice as they did in Mrs B’s time.

    In the event of a famine, I am sure there will be those, including the health minister, who will pray for divine assistance & pour holy water & such like to please the gods but a supreme sacrifice, as apparently made by Vihara Maha Devi, would be most appropriate in the circumstances & who should be better than the health minister to do so, after all, didn’t she volunteer earlier? She will go down in history as well as the heroine of SL in the 21st century.

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