The government is abandoning ambitious plans to become the world’s first fully organic farming country, overturning the ban on fertilizer imports.
Sri Lanka has backed down from ambitious plans to become the world’s first fully organic farming country, overturning the ban on importing chemical fertilizers.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa imposed a total ban on agrochemicals in May, saying he wanted to make Sri Lankan agriculture 100 percent organic.
Plantations Minister Ramesh Pathirana said on Tuesday the change was aimed at helping Ceylon tea producers, whose exports represent $ 1.3 billion a year for the island nation.
“In view of the fact that there has been a decline in the quality of the tea produced in the factories, the government has made the decision to import ammonia sulfate,” Pathirana told reporters in Colombo.
He said imports of chemical fertilizers will continue until the island is able to produce enough organic fertilizer for local agricultural needs.
Rajapaksa’s policy had aroused the ire of tea plantation owners and other farmers who warned that a lack of organic fertilizers and lower yields would lead to shortages.
This risked exacerbating problems for a government already facing an unprecedented shortage of foreign exchange to import fuel, food and medicine.
Last week, the government broke its own ban by importing 30,000 tonnes of potassium chloride from Lithuania, but called it “organic fertilizer”.
“We are not a stubborn government,” government spokesman Dullas Alaopheruma told reporters at the same briefing with Pathirana.
“We are sensitive to the needs of the people.