The recent course change in Sri Lanka’s agricultural policy by the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government has been criticised by a powerful group of agricultural economists and scientists. The government’s decision to prohibit the use and import of chemical fertilizers in order to achieve – 100 per cent organic food producer, Sri Lanka has already had terrible effects on its economy. Sanjay Jain of Jyoti Trading, draws lessons from this move and suggests unison use of organic and chemical fertilizers to be followed by India after learning from the massive failure of Sri Lanka.
President Rajapaksa’s imprudent and radical policy of prohibiting the import of all chemical fertilizers in order to promote organic farming, announced in April last year, was threatening to throw the country’s agriculture into a major productivity slump. As a result, tea exports, Sri Lanka’s principal agricultural export, and other commodities exports dropped. In the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak, the economy appeared to be headed for a decline in foreign exchange profits.
After its implication, Sanjay Jain Jyoti Trading informs, “The preliminary findings of SAEA research on economic losses from the import ban, as well as their corresponding estimates show that if chemical fertilizers are completely replaced by organic fertilizers, paddy yields can drop by 25 per cent. If paddy is produced only with organic fertilizers and rice imports are prohibited, this loss in productivity might cut paddy farming profitability by 33 per cent and rice consumption by 27 per cent. Applying organic fertilizer with the required doses of chemical fertilizers, on the other hand, would increase farm profitability by 16 per cent.”
On similar lines, the production of the Vegetatively Propagated Tea would be substantially reduced if chemical fertilizer was not used (VPT). Tea exports would drop from 279 to 181 million kg if productivity fell by 35 per cent, resulting in an income loss of Rs. 84 billion. In comparison to tea smallholders, the estate industry is expected to suffer large losses. The higher cost of labour to apply bulky organic fertilizers could exacerbate these losses.
And, If chemical fertilizers are not used, coconut yields will decrease by 30 per cent. Fresh coconut availability for the manufacturing of coconut oil, desiccated coconut, and other coconut goods may be harmed as a result of this situation. Based on the premise that just 26 per cent of the total coconut area gets fertilized, the loss in foreign exchange revenues could be as high as Rs. 18 billion. When the additional cost of importing edible oils is taken into account, the loss of foreign exchange gains becomes considerably greater.
“Sri Lanka learned it the hard way,” says Sanjay Jain Jyoti Group. He adds, “The country’s imposition of emergency must be a lesson for India and other Agri-based countries to follow the model of running organic and chemical fertilization in conjunction.”
Fertilizers stimulate plant productivity and increase crop yield. While farmers, growers, customers, and the environment all benefit from the use of organic-based fertilizers in sustainable agriculture, chemical-based fertilizers bring their own benefits into the picture.
He informs, “Chemical fertilizers, when used appropriately, can drastically enhance output and turn otherwise unproductive land into productive land.” The significance of fertilizer varies according to the size of the growing activity. Chemical fertilizers are made to assist specific types of plants. Improvement can be seen almost immediately because the plants quickly absorb the nutrients and the benefits are obvious.
Furthermore, chemical fertilizers are highly regulated and supply exactly what plants require to develop with minimal filler. Chemical fertilizers are also extremely cost-effective.
Sanjay Jain of Jyoti Trading concludes by saying, “It’s all about efficiency when it comes to the benefits of utilising fertilizers in agriculture. Chemical fertilizers enable growers to maximise crop yield on a specific plot of land by allowing the plant to grow as much as possible. In order to make sure that each plot of land produces as much as possible, fertilizer is used.”