President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stressed that he will take up the challenge of making Sri Lanka the first country in the world to eliminate the use of chemical fertilisers, without taking a step back on the decision.
He said the fact that no country in the world has abandoned the use of chemical fertilisers is not an obstacle to achieve this goal.
The President made this observation at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat to raise awareness on the ban on import of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides and their use.
President Rajapaksa urged everyone to get together to educate the farmers to create a healthy generation by taking it to the field, without limiting it to mere talks.
“The Government must ensure the right of the people to a toxic-free diet, to create a healthy and productive citizen. It is also a pledge made in the National Policy Framework ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ to accelerate the production of organic fertilisers in the next decade, so that only organic fertiliser will be used in the agricultural field of Sri Lanka,” he said.
The Memorandum was presented to the Cabinet of Ministers recently with the aim of creating a green socio-economic model of sustainable solutions to climate change, laying the foundation for making this a reality.
President’s Media said Sri Lanka has spent $ 221 million in 2019 on chemical fertiliser imports. With the rise in prices of oil, it is estimated that the cost will be increased by an amount between $ 300-400 million per annum.
President Rajapaksa pointed out that despite the exorbitant expenditures on chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides; there has been no qualitative increase in agricultural production.
Reduced yields as a result of infertility of soil and the destruction of biodiversity can be witnessed.
The use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides pollutes rivers and streams and poses a serious challenge to quality drinking water supply.
The Government expenditure with regards to a number of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including chronic kidney disease (CKD) and cancer, is rising every year. The loss of livelihoods of the people living in rural areas, deteriorating health conditions and the decline in people’s productivity have become challenges the country is facing today.
The President underscored that implementation of a sustainable green socio-economic pattern should not be delayed, despite the issues and complications that may occur at the launch of the program.
“We need to identify the perfect solutions to the problems that emerge. Farmers may assume that giving up on chemical fertilisers will reduce the yield. If it does, the President guaranteed that the Rs. 50 billion spent annually on chemical fertilisers will be used to recover their loss,” he said.
He said that personnel with a proper training and knowledge are required to implement the program.
“There is no obstacle for those who are reluctant or have different ideas about the program to leave it at the very beginning,” said President Rajapaksa, adding that he was prepared to personally reach out to the farming community to overcome the challenges.
Rajapaksa also stated that the Government will directly intervene to provide all necessary facilities to encourage the production of organic fertiliser at the district level.
“Objections could arise in this regard, as it is a sensitive matter for most engaged in agriculture,” Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival Head Basil Rajapaksa said.
However, he noted that the goal could be easily accomplished through the contribution of religious leaders, organisations affiliated to farmers, professionals, researchers, Government officials, the media and all other relevant parties with proper awareness.
He also highlighted the need to expand the organic fertiliser market in a manner that would be convenient for the farmer.
MP Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero, Dr. Ven. Kirinde Assaji Thero, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, State Ministers D.B. Herath, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, S. Viyalendran, MPs Manjula Dissanayake, Anupa Pasqual, Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Government officials, researchers, organic fertiliser manufacturers and representatives from organisations affiliated to farming were also present at the discussion.
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