By 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.