Thousands of farmers have taken to the streets of Sri Lanka for weeks to protest against the ban on importing chemical fertilizers.
The Sri Lankan government wants to move towards 100% organic agriculture because, according to it, it is more sustainable and better for the environment.
But many farmers argue the policy will hurt the industry and seriously affect the country’s food security.
Some farmers carried coffins marked with a sign indicating “the death of agriculture” and burnt effigies of the Minister of Agriculture.
Others say they haven’t had time to prepare.
“Today we should be in the fields to prepare our land. Instead, we are forced to take to the streets because of a fertilizer problem. We were first told to make our own. carbon dioxide, but we don’t have the resources for it. “
Almost two-thirds of Sri Lanka’s population depend on agriculture and the sector accounts for 7% of GDP.
The onset of the monsoon usually marks the start of planting for rice farmers across the country.
But this year, many are planting less than usual while waiting for government help to switch to organic farming.
According to a prominent agricultural economist and a farmers’ association, this reduction in plantings could lower the annual yield of Sri Lanka paddy by about 40%.
The Agriculture Ministry has acknowledged that the shift to organic farming has been fragile, but insists that the policy enjoys support from various sectors of society.