ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will not reverse a decision to ban chemical fertilizer imports which can save 400 million dollars a year, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had informed the head of key a Buddhist chapter in the island.
President Rajapaksa had met the Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thero, the Mahanayake of the Asgiri Chapter and other senior monks on June 27.
The government also spends more than 400 million annually on chemical fertilizer imports, the statement said.
Sri Lanka is facing severe forex shortages due to unprecedented money printing and a soft-peg with the US dollar had fallen to 200 to from 182 in late 2019. The excess liquidity is draining out reserves as the peg is defended.
The President had told the monks that “the use of organic fertilizer would enable the farmers to receive the funds that flow out to foreign companies when importing chemical fertilizers.”
Sri Lanka started a large scale fertilizer subsidy in 2005 as a vote buying move, which critics have said led to overuse and waste of fertilizer and prevented modern application methods from coming to the country.
President Rajapaksa had said that he will not reverse the decision to use organic fertilizer and had also said that will not allow “any farmer to face inconveniences during the implementation of the programme.”
There have been rising protests from farmer groups about the lack of fertilizer during the current cultivation season, though the ban goes into effect proper from the next season.
Agriculture specialists had also warned of crop losses from the sudden ban.
President Rajapaksa had said officials were reluctant to take decision after officials were prosecuted during the last administration, and many activities were disrupted due to this fear, he had said. (Colombo/June27/2021)