By Upatissa Pethiyagoda –
To me, the ongoing discourse, stimulated by a reckless decision to ban the import of all non-organic agro-chemicals with “immediate effect” could be considered healthy, Unfortunately, the “Vasa visa nethi krushikarma” folks, on whose advice the President perhaps made this dramatic move, have chosen to remain silent. The issue has now less to do with science and more with political tones.
It is not fair to expect the President to be knowledgeable about every matter that seems to require his stamp of authority, for anything to happen. Rather, also by an unfortunate statement, where he declared that the word of the President is sufficient authority to act, being superior to any “circular”.
Our President reportedly declared at the UN General Assembly in New York, that Sri Lanka aims to be the First Country to go “Totally organic”. Since it is likely that the President’s address would have been composed or at least “vetted” before its delivery It is clear that The President should review the competence of those who accompanied him to New York, or are cozying around him here.
It would also be unwise to seek the advice of prelates in Parliament, Trade Unions, or even Mahanayaka positions, for advice on technical matters, as much as to be advised by agricultural chemists, Pediatricians, or “Professors” of doubted provenance, on spiritual matters. Is the 20th Amendment with heavy responsibilities and authoritarian features bestowed on Presidents when in office, the root cause? The whole fertilizer story is now a matter of hurt egos or of political sensitivity, than a purely technical one.
I was stunned the other day to hear our Minister of Agriculture declaring (in a kind of ‘repair job’) that the intention of the recent exceptions to the ban, was not a reversal of the “Ban situation,“ but only a concession, in a special case. It was to apply, he said “ only to import of “Liquid Nitrogen”, because it was cheaper than other forms of “fertilizer nitrogen”. In conventional chemistry, nitrogen gas becomes liquid at about minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Absolute zero is some minus 293 degrees Fahrenheit and is the lowest Temperature achievable! It is impossible to imagine a paddy farmer in Kahatagasdigiliya or Horowupotana, having facilities to handle “liquid nitrogen“. To be charitable the Minister perhaps had in mind, preparations like “Hyponex”or “Maxicrop”, While being appalled by this degree of understanding in one who is supposed to help in managing our affairs as implied in the word “Deshapalanaya” (meaning roughly as “Managing the nation”), can be entrusted with taking decisions affecting our futures and of those yet to be born. It will be perilous that those so seriously “intellectually challenged” are custodians of our very existence and of those yet to be born!