There seems to be a huge issue in the process of decision-making by the government, given the reversal of previous decisions one after one. The government had issued several gazette notifications on assigning control prices for rice and sugar, and all of which have by now been withdrawn, leaving the traders to have a field day. Now, the prices of those items together with those of all other food items including the locally grown vegetable are skyrocketing. In a similar manner the government has decided to remove the ban on some of the agro-chemicals which was imposed on May 6 this year, leading to food crops across the country being destroyed for want of fertilizer and insecticides, pesticides and weedicides.
Interestingly and in a way ludicrously, the government politicians are not prepared to accept the blunder or the repercussions of them including the financial loss incurred by the State as well as the individuals in the country by their decisions. They are very smart in justifying both the original decision as well as the reversal of them, claiming that both were taken in the interest of the country and the people. Now that the government has decided to import some varieties of chemical fertilizer, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage seems to find it difficult to digest the situation, he in a pretentious proud manner claims that government has not decided to import chemical fertilizer, despite the Secretary to his ministry contradicting it.
What now the minister has to answer is, the reason for the ban on those items that have now been allowed to import. In other words, on what scientific grounds did the government ban the importation of those items before reversing that decision, leave alone arguing on whether these items are chemical or organic?
The Secretary to the Agriculture Ministry Professor Udith K. Jayasinghe told media on Sunday that an item down the priority list cannot top the list, meaning switching to organic farming cannot replace the food security of the country. It is somewhere below the food security. And the State Minister for Organic farming, Shashindra Rajapaksa also said subsequent to the reversal of the ban on some agro-chemicals that organic farming cannot be achieved in one Kanna (season) and it would take several seasons. In fact it would not be a process of several kannas; but several years, sometimes more than a decade. However, Minister Aluthgamage is apparently obsessed with the terms chemical and organic, rather than accepting the blunder made by the government by banning the chemical fertilizer, without a prior feasibility study on the subject.
In a scientific standpoint, everything in the universe that takes a space is a matter and it has inevitably a chemical aspect. The field of chemistry involves everything around us. “Everything you hear, see, smell, taste and touch involves chemistry and chemicals (matter),” according to the American Chemical Society (ACS), a no-profit science organization for the advancement of chemistry, chartered by the US congress. Chemistry is the study of matter; teachers taught us when we were studying in Grade 9 (the present year 10). Therefore anything that is used as fertilizer can be categorized as chemical fertilizer. However, what we normally call organic fertilizer is a substance that is produced through a natural process such as decaying and decomposing, despite it also being a chemical process. Therefore it is absurd to debate on the terms.
Simply what seems to have happened is when the government faced with the dollar crisis, some influential people have advised the President to save dollar by banning importation of agro-chemicals which runs into an annual sum of US$ 400 million. The opportunistic politicians in the government ranks, even those who hail from the agricultural districts did not prefer to warn about the repercussions of the advice. They too joined the bandwagon and praised the ban, just to please the higher ups for political survival.
However, it is not clear if the situation could be rectified fully by the reversal of the ban at this stage. Yet, it is good that the decision to import at least some varieties of agro-chemicals was taken at least now.