Lessons from Lanka on switching to organic farming

Experts warn of sudden change following crisis in neighboring country

Experts warn of sudden change following crisis in neighboring country

A question that echoed in academic circles in the state over the past few weeks was whether Kerala had anything to learn from the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. Finance Minister KN Balagopal has openly admitted that the state can learn from the economic crisis in the neighboring country, which is seen as an extension of Kerala in many ways.

According to reports, the misguided policy of switching to organic farming, avoiding chemical fertilizers, has led to a sharp decline in agricultural production and tea export earnings in Sri Lanka. Kerala is also on the same page to some extent, as it puts around 82,000 hectares of farmland under organic cultivation, taking inspiration from chemical-free natural farming promoted by Subhash Palekar, often referred to as the father of zero-budget natural agriculture (ZBNF).

According to Department of Agriculture data, out of the target of 82,000 hectares set under the project titled ‘Subhiksham Surakshitham – Bharatiya Prakartik Krishi Padhathi’ (Kerala Agro Ecology Based Biodiversity Conservation), agriculture has been shifted to organically grown on 57,000 hectares by March 2022, spending about ₹22.27 crore, 40% of which was supported by the state government and the rest by the Center.

P. Indira Devi, Agricultural Economist and former Research Director at Kerala Agricultural University, said: “I would not say that the state should switch completely to organic agriculture all at once without taking into account the advances technologies of modern agriculture. But the state has the opportunity to experiment with organic farming by absorbing the lessons of scientific methods. Whenever we adopt a new mode of cultivation, the long-term socio-ecological impact must be taken into account.

“Negligible area”

Vijayasree SB, Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture Organic Agriculture Unit, said, “The area set for conversion to organic farming is negligible compared to the total area of ​​the state. When there are 26 lakh hectares of cultivated area in Kerala, 82,000 hectares, that is not much. In addition, the area converted to organic farming has started to show results.

“Revenue generation must”

India’s former diplomat to China, Muraleedharan Nair, said whether it’s agricultural policy, tourism or reliance on NRI remittances, the state has a lot to learn from the Lankan crisis. “Even the infrastructure projects proposed by the government of Kerala like the SilverLine semi-high speed train project or the metro projects have a lot in common with the Colombo port city project and the Colombo airport project. Hambantota in Lanka. The state must now focus on revenue-generating projects. Otherwise, we will be forced to borrow abroad to service the debt,” Mr Nair said.

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