15 April, 2024


Organic Fertilizer, Waste Management & Environment

By Rusiripala Tennakoon –

Rusiripala Tennakoon

We are plagued by issues related to the Fertilizer requirements of our farmers demanding the restoration of ‘status quo ante’ enabling them to revert to chemical fertilizers and weedicides as before for their cultivation practices. The matter has assumed proportions of a massive campaign developing across many parts of the country actively promoted and incited by external forces. The controversy on the responsibility remains confined to one section of the Government machinery while there is a growing trend of retraction by many others, becoming visible.

Whatever the critics say, switching over to the use of organic fertilizer is of great National Importance. It brings in several positive impacts which will be helpful both in the short run as well as in the long term. The saving of much needed foreign exchange utilized to import chemical fertilizers (which remain under the control of a Global Mafia) is the immediate beneficial effect. Prevention of Health and environmental hazards which invariably follow the extensive use of Chemical fertilizer comes next. Ability to attract and promote an export market for organically cultivated products is another avenue opening up as a result is yet another. Above all, placement of the country on a par with those countries in the world following a concept of adopting systems to protect the global environment is the other benefit.

Regarding the last one of the above concerns, it is worth the while to examine what is happening else- where in the world. According to recent surveys on the recent changes that shape our international society it is revealed that; “The trend survey shows that the rising environmental concern is accompanied by four related global trends: a rise in eco-consciousness, a focus on vitality, taking precautions when risks arise and an increased interest in politics. Because values and consumer needs are shifting, there will be an immense marketplace for environmentally friendly alternatives in the decade to come. This is a major opportunity for countries, businesses and leaders to tap into.”

But the achievement of these objectives appears to be in the distant horizon while the immediate adverse impacts are becoming more obvious. The decision for a sudden switchover to the use of organic fertilizer without adequate space for alternates and adjustments has caused alarm and provocation. An innocent protest that started by our farmers has been fueled to ignite into an inferno. Who is to be blamed? This is the aspect I wish to deal with in this write up.

The culture and the background of our farmers remains too deep rooted and embedded in the traditional practices they were used to over a long period of time. They obviously need time to adopt the changes. Non availability of alternate applications at hand readily is another cause for annoyance. If they were made to adjust to the switch-over transition gradually, the results would have been different from what it has culminated into today. Even a genius policy decision needs direction and adjustment to secure the most perfect and reliable results. There seems to be a gap in this requirement at the planning and implementation level which led to this unwanted mayhem and chaos.

The policy maker gets the blame although there is nothing wrong in the broad and laudable principal underlying it. According to a news broadcast the President appointed a Task Force for its implementation. Did this body address the most obvious issues that cropped up in a palatable manner? Or did they try to merely play ball towing a line of ‘faithful idiots’ come what? Looks like many chose hard talk against protest actions instead of apprising the realities. Like the monkey trying to protect the sleeping master using a sharp knife to chase away the flies disturbing his sleep!

I recently casually asked about the opinion of a Bank Head (from a bank dedicated to rural development) what he feels about a social media alert I introduced, viz. ‘it is a good thing to direct the local bodies in small clusters/groups to initiate starting small scale mechanized waste management units capable of producing organic manure as a bi-product’.

By raising this I expected this head of a SOE to grasp the value of the concept behind this short message. Looking at what is happening else where we are aware that in todays context their waste management takes place localized under modern technology thereby addressing many important social issues such as;

* Successful managing and control of public waste handling

* Creation of environmental friendly waste- management and disposal units

* Paving the way to the generation of several nationally important items as bi-products

(i) Bio-Gas, electricity (energy to the main grid)

(ii) plastics, metal, glass and other recoverable items from waste

(iii) organic manure

(iv) creation of several employment opportunities

(v) a cleaner and healthier environment resulting from efficient waste removal

None so blind as those who do not see. Alas, the reply of this Head of SOE was shocking! He referred to a SME product offered by them to promote the SME sector. For his small mind he was correct. Only thing he was not ready to assist and positively contribute to the Policy Maker who was struggling to introduce new concepts in keeping with global trends.

Today the reality is all our local bodies which carry the responsibility of public waste handling in their respective areas are facing a big problem in dumping, collecting and making any use of the waste collected.

The Presidential Task Force on Organic Fertilizer is saddled with finding immediate supply sources of Organic fertilizer as we do not have such in sufficient quantities here.

Farmers are revolting and burning effigies of Ministers, chasing Politicos who come for other functions to their villages, engaging in protest actions often abused and misused by other disgruntled elements for their ulterior motives.

A country which aimed to stop the drain of exchange on account of Fertilizer imports is now saddled with more expenditure to immediately supplement organic fertilizer from overseas amidst several controversies and facing allegations of corruption and fraud.

Some Trade Unions too trying to ostensibly join hands with the farmers to boost their depleting strengths in order to achieve further wage gains, ( trying to light the cigar from the fire when the house is burning)

My message was to help create an innovative thinking process under a suitably planned National Program to make them take the initiative to create high tech. oriented manufacturing plants locally in different parts of the country. This needs Nation Wide mobilization involving ministries such as Local government, Finance and Agriculture and agencies such as the Presidential Task Force on organic Fertilizer.

I therefor, baffled by the response of this SOE head, with no prejudice to anyone posted another social media message worded as follows;

Viz. “some heads of SOEs should be made to think at national level and not merely to be guided by officials below making small proposals. Any way it is the Dogs that have to wag the tails!”

If there is anyone with foresight, far thinking and the necessary imagination to build the nation, backed by exposure to what is happening in other parts of the civilized world, let them consider the feasibility of this innovative move considering it as ‘food for thought’.

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Latest comments

  • 3

    “Organic farming policy is very good”. No one deny it. Then why the farmers are protesting and burning the effigies of Ministers? Are they against to Organic farming policy or against the Ministers? Is there any politics? Yes, it is a tit for tat policy. There are so many good policies there for ‘food for thought”.” Replace Military weapons with Buddha’s teaching” “Replace Rajapaksa family with Gnanasara Family”.

  • 4

    Dear Rasiripala
    Your article is the need of the hour.
    In my view going organic, though a honourable thought , it’s definitely not the right move for SriLanka, at this juncture and under the present circumstances , where the country is facing Massive unemployment, shortage of everything you could think of , rampant corruption in every sphere of governance . ETC.
    The talk is that there is a shortage of ink to print money, and we haven’t the dollars to pay for it
    The country is bankrupt, been to sold to the cheapest and highest bidders. Greening SriLanka is a welcome idea and a noble thought. But can we afford it at this juncture? Can we maintain it in the medium to long term?The plain answer is a big NO.
    (Might add more later)
    Ratnam Nadarajah

    • 1

      It’s a real shame that this write up by Rasiripala has yielded just 2 comments. Believe me I am not by any means trying to patronise.
      The fact is that, if the writer’s proposals were to be implemented, the benefits to the nation, I belive are colossal and opportunities for employment are bountiful.
      I sincerely hope the authorities ; meaning that the government and governors of SriLanka take note and atleast try to implement some of the proposal. Is this wishful thinking?. OR is it a case of ;
      Though it’s written on the sign, “Do not ignore” its useless against those who refuse or cannot read.

      I expected my respectful Panini alias Sinhala Man to have come up with a host of mind boggling ideas and an array of thought provoking comments
      Panini, I sincerely hope that I am not in any way putting you on the spot. If so, it’s neither my intention nor the purpose.
      And by the way , CT readers, what happened to Leelagai Malli (LM) , SJ , RMT, EE, Soma and other regular pundits and commentators ? Are they taking an extended break?
      Ratnam Nadarajah

  • 1

    ‘Organic’ should not be confined to fertilizer and insecticide alone, but extended to include organic soil organic water air, organic garbage and factory wastage disposal and of course imports.

    It could only be successful if it is tackled on an international basis like climate.

    Small countries will suffer immensely if Piecemeal, ad hoc approaches are made.

  • 1

    The problem surely is that, ultimately, we humans expect too much from this planet. We’ve certainly evolved a pretty complex brain, but it must be at its most creative when we are kids.
    Oh, and we produce too many kids; i think that world population now is three times what it was when I was born. That’s because we live ever longer.
    The guys who rule this land are roughly my age. It’s high time they retired – of course they’ll say that they just came in. Well, we don’t want them!
    Nada, I didn’t realise that Barbados was this small:
    But their Prime Minister certainly knows how to get her message across:
    That probably is because they effectively use only one language. That option is not open to us. we must have three languages.
    Panini Edirisinhe

  • 1

    To more closely address the issue of fertiliser, I guess that there are two ways in which we can preserve it. The older method was not to try to be too clever but use what has been handed by generations of farmer-ancestors. Never allow the top soil to be washed away. How can I get the guy who “does” my garden to understand that? He thinks that our mountain is a little older than us. I gave up when it became clear that he feels that he demands that his family to comply with hi notions of of politics.
    They still practice “the rotation of crops”. I’m sure that the practice would have been established by a guy who knew that different varieties of plant deplete the ground of differently.
    Ideally, our farmers should understand sufficient chemistry to make all their decisions rational. A tall order, that! As for me, I realise the importance of all this, but tell myself that I don’t have the aptitude for this – surely a cover for my laziness.
    If we go on like this, we’ll miss the bus.

  • 0

    Well written article by an well experienced agricultural professional who had been heavily involved in organic agriculture. However it is in Sinhala and some of you may not understand it well : Really knowledgeable article on organic farming.
    Varuna Rathnabharathie

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