SJB yesterday said it fears farmers will face additional challenges if a complete ban of chemical fertiliser is implemented
- Says Govt. approach to fertiliser ban flawed
- Calls for measured consultative approach
- Asserts farmers should not be penalised for forex woes
- Warns ban could create space for thriving blackmarket
- Farmer community already facing multitude of issues
By Asiri Fernando
The Government has endangered the farming community by rushing to ban the import of chemical fertiliser without proper consultation and scaling up viable alternatives, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Hesha Withanage charged yesterday.
Addressing a press conference at the Opposition Leader’s office, MP Withanage accused the Government of acting in a short-sighted manner and endangering the livelihoods of over two million people engaged in agriculture by suddenly declaring a ban on the importation of chemical fertiliser. He was joined by fellow SJB MP Chaminda Wijesiri.
“This move by the Government has endangered the livelihoods of over two million farmers, many of whom are already struggling to get by. It is good to reduce the amount of chemical fertiliser usage. However, a ban should only happen after a viable process for making available alternatives for chemical fertiliser is established. Going ahead with a ban without an alternative and mechanism to distribute it will only feed into black marketeers profiting from the sale of banned fertiliser,” MP Withanage opined.
MP Withange argued that if the ban were to be enforced, it may affect food security in the coming years with a sudden reduction in crops due to a lack of effective alternatives being available to farmers. He stressed the need for broad consultation among experts, awareness building and for an effective mechanism to be put in place before a strict ban was enforced.
The SJB MP questioned how the Government planned to provide relief for the farmers affected by the decision, pointing out that statements by Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage that the State would provide relief for the farmers and growers affected couldn’t be taken seriously due to the weak state of the economy.
“Why is the Government throwing farming communities into greater risk during uncertain times? The situation for farmers is already hard. Don’t take out the Government’s foreign currency woes on farmers who feed the nation,” the Opposition MP stressed.