Sri Lanka for the past few decades has been sowing with the wind and is now reaping the whirlwind with the vital field of agriculture being virtually turned into a vulture. So severe is the crisis that the Internal Trade Ministry, according to a report in our sister newspaper the Sunday Times, has sought Cabinet approval to import as much as 50,000 metric tons of rice from India.
The newspaper quoted a ministry spokesman as saying there has been a failure in the Maha and Yala cultivation seasons mainly due to a change in weather patterns and a prolonged drought.
He says the rice is to be imported as a buffer stock to prevent unscrupulous traders from creating artificial shortages or raising prices. A front-page picture in the ‘Sunday Times’ showed people in a Minneriya village standing in a queue to collect some muddy water for drinking though rain during the past few days may provide some relief. What such ministry spokesmen do not say is that the major change in the weather patterns has been caused by the Government’s failure to take effective steps to curb environmental pollution and global warming. On the contrary, various measures or events are increasing global warming. For instance the ‘Sunday Times’ also reported that Army commandos are planning to hold races for powerful four-wheel -drive vehicles through jungles from Point Pedro in the North to Moneragala, with environmentalists expressing grave concern over the damage this might cause.
For the past few decades and especially after the capitalist market economic policy was enforced, farmers have been encouraged to use excessive amounts of chemical fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides – some of them known to be toxic. As a result layer after layer of our priceless soil or Mother Earth is being killed and the ground water polluted to such an extent that more than 20,000 North Central Province farmers have died of kidney failure. Worse still, it is known that most of the rice and grain, vegetables and fruits we are eating are polluted by agro-chemicals and preservatives. That means millions of people, including children, are eating some poison with every meal. That also may be the reason why most of the people are falling sick more often and hospitals have become not only like market places but also a big business for private hospital owners and some medical specialists.
For the past few decades and especially after the capitalist market economic policy was enforced, farmers have been encouraged to use excessive amounts of chemical fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides – some of them known to be toxic. As a result layer after layer of our priceless soil or Mother Earth is being killed and the ground water polluted to such an extent that more than 20,000 North Central Province farmers have died of kidney failure
In teams of a solution, the Government needs to make an immediate and effective policy change, though it is known that trans-national companies are giving millions of rupees to top politicians and officials to prevent any change. If we wish to save Mother Earth and prevent further poisoning of the people, the Government must open the fields and offer incentives for organic agriculture or bio–farming with the use of bio-fertilisers such as cow dung. It is not only a question of saving millions of dollars we spend on the import of agro-chemicals and the cure of patients who eat poison. It is a question of saving Mother Lanka herself.
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