Farmers Protest As Government Initiates “Very Painful Structural Adjustments” 
Posted 28,July

By Chaveendra Dunuwille

In Local News

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In line with the government’s climate resilience and green economy initiative several drastic changes have been made. One of which is the complete ban of the import of chemical fertilizer. 

Quoted as a “very painful structural adjustment” referencing the discontent of farmers, island wide the government views the ban as a means of saving the nation’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves and also a chance to improve the health of citizens as according to the government a large portion of the budget allocated for health is used to treating non-communicable diseases such as chronic kidney disorders, heart diseases and diabetes. 

It was noted that the government in 2019 spent over $221 million on the import of chemical fertilizer. However recent policies adopted by the government may prove to be a hindrance to the promise made by President Gotabaya pledging to provide fertilizer free of charge. 

Amidst growing protests the Plantation minister Dr. Ramesh Patirana assured that the government has an adequate supply of chemical fertilizer for the tea industry. He noted that the government currently holds 49 000 tons of which 25 000 tons were distributed last week. The remaining stock of 24 000 is to be directly distributed among factories. 

However experts and stakeholders have raised concerns as to the effectiveness and the detriment effects resulting from the ban due to the fact that tea industry alone requires 150 000 tons for fertilizer per annum and the value available is less that 1/3rd the required amount. 

The government does not seem to show any deviations from this policy as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the virtual UN Food System Summit hosted by the Italian Government from the 26th to the 28th of July made a speech stating that he encourages the rest of the world to follow Sri Lanka’s bold approach to tackling food production related pollutions and the facilitating of a green economy.