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Sri Lanka's leap into total organic farming a cautionary tale for India?

TR Vivek | Updated on November 24, 2021

On Field Notes this week, we look outside India’s shores, across the Palk Strait. Neighbouring Srilanka in recent months has been ravaged by food shortages. The crisis has been precipitated by a Gotabaya Rajapaksa-government decision that can charitably be called crackpot. In April this year, the country imposed a ban on the use of synthetic or chemical fertilisers. With the stroke of a pen, the government wants to make the Island nation of 22 million people and 1.8 million farming families into a fully organic food producing paradise. Instead, it threatens to turn the country into a basket case. Without fertilizers, farm output is tanking. Food prices have shot through the roof, tea exports have halved and farmers are on the streets protesting. Sri Lanka’s crisis has great relevance for India. Here too, several state governments like Andhra plan to go completely organic in the next decade or so. Even the central government enthusiastically promotes ideas like zero budget natural farming. Justified fears around climate change and ecological damage has helped activists offer organic farming as the only alternative. 

TR Vivek speaks to Buddhi Marambe, a professor of agriculture in Peradeniya University in Sri Lanka for a Ground Zero view and possible lessons for India.

Published on November 24, 2021

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