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DECISION ON CHEMICAL VS ORGANIC?

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All plants need nutrients in macro and micro levels for their growth, reproduction and all development processes same as us. In natural supplying systems, nutrient cycles in soil, air and water interactively functioned with plants. There was a naturally controlled balance. However, in commercial or human interfered cultivations, the natural balance has been broken and instead of that a new state of balance has been formulated. With further developments and changes in agricultural industries, threatening negative impacts on social, economic, environmental and health related were emerging at alarming levels. In this century, agricultural communities, consumers, policy makers and scientists around the world are thinking about solutions and how best to address them.

With the global economic revolutions, commercial agriculture has evolved from traditional to intensive cultivation techniques with time. It was indeed required change to cater the food requirements on growing populations. Hunger in the world is now at rise. Around 770 billion people around the world are currently re under-nourished (https://www.fao.org). Therefore, more food production is essential to save the human lives.

Today, highly sophisticated and advanced technologies have evolved in agriculture industries to maximise the productivity and efficiencies.  In 2019, the global amount of primary crop production recorded was 9.4 billion tonnes (https://www.fao.org). As a result of increasing demand and production, quantities of agricultural input used are increasing in numbers. For example, global pesticide use increased by 36 per cent between 2000 and 2019, reaching 4.2 million tonnes in 2019. Total agricultural use of inorganic fertilizers, expressed as the sum of the three nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (expressed as P2O5) and potassium (expressed as K2O), was 189 million tonnes in 2019.   (https://www.fao.org).     

In Sri Lanka, the current government made a groundbreaking political decision to convert commercial agriculture to organic production with the vision of healthy food production and eco-friendly cultivation culture. These transformations have several health reasons. The most significant suspect condition for this decision is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in some paddy farming areas. As a result of the ruling, a number of issues were raised in different ways and the situation is worsening day by day.

Can this decision be a one taken on strong reasoning based on scientific investigations? There are still no exactly proven research findings that agro chemicals and inorganic fertilizers are the core responsible causing factors on CKD. Some scientific researchers say heavy metals such as Cadmium and Arsonic in agro chemicals spoiled the soils and it created CKD condition. In contrast, the arguments against it point out Agrochemicals and CKD geographical distribution has no identifiable correlations. Therefore, further research studies in multi-disciplinary approaches and using modern technologies to investigations are required to implement. Most research on this issue does not seem to be focused on really determining the cause of CKD. Those researches are based on personal or some other objectives rather than genuinely wanting to address the issue. It proves by expression of causing factors using some non-scientific mythological approaches by some researchers. Those unscientific conclusions lead completely to spoil the value, reputation and proper investigative directions for the professional genuine scientists. That is a shameful experience for Sri Lankan scientific fields. If the right issue and solutions are needed to find genuinely and scientifically, there should be a genuine opportunities to right professionals rather than those who seek personal gains as an advantage through this burning issue with the human lives.

Government decision on banning inorganic fertilizers is not the correct approach towards eco-friendly and organic farming. In real world, 100% organic farming is not possible in commercial, large scale crop productions. And, those incompetent, unrelated and impractical advisors on this decision have not understood the weight of the impacts and practicability of the decision. They seem to lack knowledge of inorganic fertilizers. In sustainable and practicable context; right decisions should be control the over use of inorganic fertilizers and maintain the quality of the fertilizer imports and productions. The sustainable and effective approach is to implement integrated approach where both inorganic and organic fertilizers used in mixtures; avoidance of over doses and unwanted use of agro chemicals. Some arguments say we have cultivated without inorganic substances before open economy but they don’t answer of the growth of population and limitation of land extents for cultivations. The obvious fact is that 100% organic production never able to provide sufficient food supplies to the population. And; 100% inorganic production showed the negative impacts.      

Priyanga Kumara Premarathne
Priyanga Kumara Premarathne
M.Sc.(EE), B.Sc. (Sp) Agric. Australia

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