Condemnation: False Accusations Leveled against Agriculture Professionals and Academia, and Destroying the Agriculture Sector in Sri Lanka
The sudden change of government policy and priority in converting the Sri Lankan agricultural sector to an organic or green agriculture with the ban imposed on importation of agro-chemicals on 6th May 2021, was questioned by agriculture professionals, academia, farming community and the entire civil society at large. This is because the policy being without a realistic vision and noprofessional touch.
This policy decision to ban the importation of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which is likely to be based on the ill-advice received by HE the President of Sri Lanka, has left the country short of required quantities or volumes of plant nutrients and pesticides. These are important agricultural inputs in order to achieve the optimum yields to support achieving food security of the country. We foresee that, in the absence of a scientific and rational approach in this situation, not only the agricultural production but also the rural economy and employment would beseriously impaired.
Problems experienced during this Maha season 2021/2022, resulted in many farmers demanding synthetic fertilizers or effective alternatives, and taking them on to the streets despite the Covid-19 Pandemic situation, as farming is their only lifeline. For the last 6 months, the academia, scientists as well as agriculture experts have constantly highlighted that 100% organic agriculture cannot be done overnight, butthe pleas have ended up in deaf years. It is proven beyond doubt that any such conversion should be phased out and carefully planned before being implemented. However, Government has continued mobilizing public funds and resources on this unworthy cause, especially in importing urea-based nitrogen fertilizer developed using nano-technological approaches from India, and organic fertilizer from China (which is contaminated with crop disease-causing microorganisms).
We, the academia and experts in the field of agriculture, consider that it isour prime duty and responsibility to stand by the science of agriculture while being responsible and accountable for our visionary actions in order to serve the public. However, we do understand now that the government of Sri Lanka has openly criticized and falsely accused professionals and academia who expressed their views against the illogical agricultural policiesadopted in Sri Lanka.
Ministries, senior government officials and academia to leave their “offices” purely for providing scientifically valid explanations to the public on the unrealistic move made to lead the country on the organic path that would no doubt negatively affect national food security. Dignity of the government officers have been shattered purposively and shamelessly in order to achieve the short-sighted objectives of the political leadership of the country. Meanwhile, we also learned that the cronies of the Government are apparently having a feast from hard-earned public funds amidst this puddled agriculture sector.
We, the Agricultural Scientists, and professionals attached to the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA), vehemently condemns and oppose this authoritarian and meaningless decision making by the top management of the Government, demanding government officers and academia to implement and/or support the disastrous policies adopted in the agriculture sector of Sri Lanka in a blind-folded manner.
We demand to stop immediately the unnecessary interferences on evidence-based decision making by the Agriculture Scientists and Officers. Furthermore, we demand the government to revisit its policy decision on the move towards organic/green agriculture, and immediately initiate a dialog with agricultural professionals and academia prior to an imminent irreversible devastation of the agriculture sector and national economy. We strongly demand that the government take urgent measures to provide the agrochemicals needed for the agriculture sector. We hereby also demand the Government to protect their officers from any internal and external threats.
Failure to fulfill above demands, the country will face grave consequences in the near future. Such a situation will benefit only for those countries who aim to take the geo-political advantages and international market opportunities.
We sincerely hope that the political leadership of Sri Lanka will make wise decisions in developing the agriculture sector and overall economy of the country.