Sri Lanka abandons bid to be first organic farm nation

Sri Lanka yesterday abandoned its attempt to become the world’s first entirely organic farming nation amid spiralling food prices and weeks of protest.

n May, Colombo banned imports of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides in a surprise move hailed by environmentalists.

The government said it would make farming in the South Asian nation more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Speaking at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the country’s president, defended the policy, saying only “entrenched lobbies” were against a move that would create “opportunities for investment in organic agriculture”.

But Colombo reversed course yesterday amid furious protest from farmers who had been forced to abandon vast tracts of fertile soil.

“Many farmers have decided not to cultivate paddy, fearing financial losses,” said Namal Karunaratne, of the All Ceylon Farmers Federation.

Some said they were expecting far smaller crops come harvest-time.

Prof Buddhi Marambe, a former dean of the Agriculture Faculty at the University of Peradeniya, was sacked from his position as a government adviser after warning of serious food shortages in recent newspaper articles.

Yesterday, Colombo announced it would immediately lift the import ban on pesticides and other agricultural inputs. Sri Lanka was aiming to be a global pioneer by switching to a fully organic agricultural sector.

The EU is also aiming to transition to organic farming under the Farm to Fork strategy, but at a much slower pace.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]

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