Evidence-based Agri decisions: FUTA Demands Prompt End to Interference
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
The Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) strongly criticised the Government, on Friday (26), over reversing its agricultural policies in order to capitalise on geopolitical advantages and urged them to immediately cease unnecessary interferences in evidencebased decision making by Agriculture Scientists and officers of Sri Lanka.
FUTA was irked over the Government taking steps to silence those scientists and agriculture sector experts, who advised the Government on the ‘impromptu move’ it made in terms of establishing organic farming and banning chemical fertiliser, only to later realise and revoke the ban.
“Dignity of government officers have been shattered purposely and shamelessly in order to achieve the short-sighted objectives of the political leadership of the country,” FUTA charged. They also demand that the Government take immediate action to provide the agricultural sector with the agrochemicals it requires, as well as to protect their officers from both internal and external threats.
They emphasised that the Government has continued to devote public funds and resources to this ‘heinous cause,’ particularly by importing urea-based nitrogen fertiliser, developed using Nano-technological approaches, from India and organic fertiliser from China (which is allegedly contaminated with crop disease-causing microorganisms). Only those countries that seek to capitalise on geopolitical advantages and international market opportunities will benefit from such a situation, FUTA said.
“We vehemently condemn the Government’s false accusations levelled against agriculture professionals and the academia and are opposed to the authoritarian and meaningless decision making by the top management of the Government, demanding government officers and academia to implement and/or support the disastrous policies adopted in the agriculture sector of Sri Lanka in a blindfolded manner.”
“We demand the Government revisit its policy decision on the move towards organic/green agriculture, and immediately initiate a dialog with agricultural professionals and academia prior to an imminent irreversible devastation of the agriculture sector and national economy. We strongly demand that the Government take urgent measures to provide the agrochemicals needed for the agriculture sector.”
“This policy decision to ban the importation of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, which is likely to be based on the ill-advice received by the President of Sri Lanka, has left the country short of required quantities or volumes of plant nutrients and pesticides,” they pointed out. Problems experienced during this Maha season 2021/2022, resulted in many farmers demanding synthetic fertilisers or effective alternatives, and taking to the streets despite the COVID-19 Pandemic situation, as farming is their only lifeline.
For the last six months, the academia, scientists as well as agriculture experts have constantly highlighted that 100 per cent organic agriculture cannot be achieved overnight, but the pleas have ended up on deaf years, the FUTA said.