by Rathindra Kuruwita
Foreign microorganisms, that entered the nation by compost imports, could have a devastating impact on local agriculture, Sajeewa Chamikara of the Movement for Land and Agriculture Reform (MONLAR), mentioned yesterday.
Chamikara mentioned he was absolutely supportive of the choice to ban the import of agrochemicals, however permitting the import of compost was not acceptable.
“It’s very dangerous to import organic matter. It is not possible to avert serious major biosecurity incursions despite precautions. With imported compost new pests and plant species can arrive and wreak havoc,” he mentioned.
It is extremely unlikely that the brand new biosecurity threats could be contained utilizing natural pesticides or weedicides. Thus, agrochemicals must be imported to cope with the biosecurity threats. This will result in a disaster in agriculture, Chamikra mentioned.
“Adequate compost can be manufactured in Sri Lanka. The use of agrochemicals during the past 50 years have degraded our soil and that is why the productivity of our agricultural lands is low. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2018 said that 50% of agricultural lands in the central highlands had degraded due to overuse of fertilizer and soil erosion. We need to revitalise our soil with the use of compost, and we must increase our crop diversity,” he mentioned.
Chamikara added that on condition that microorganisms in most agricultural lands had died because of the overuse of agrochemicals, it will take a while for the soil to get better. Until then, a mix of compost and agrochemicals had for use in some lands for a 12 months or two, he mentioned. For this goal, the inventory of agrochemicals within the nation was sufficient, he added.
“Once this is completed, we can move into more advanced stages of sustainable agriculture like ecological farming, agroforestry and analog forestry, which require little external inputs,” he mentioned.
Due to numerous elements, Sri Lanka could not have analog forests, an strategy to ecological restoration which makes use of pure forests as guides to create ecologically steady and socio-economically productive landscapes, Chamikara mentioned. “Thus, the federal government wants to review what areas may be transformed into ecological farming, agroforestry and analog forestry.
“In some areas due to the slopes that lead to soil erosion, we will have to continuously use compost especially in hill country vegetable farms. It will take decades to transition from organic farming to analog forests. The government must be practical and transparent, or the entire concept loses credibility,” the senior environmentalist mentioned.