“Natural or organic fertilizers must conform to acceptable standards”

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The Sri Lanka Agripreneurs Forum asserts that it is necessary to ensure that all natural or organic fertilizers produced meet acceptable standards, in order for them to perform as advertised.

The Fertilizer Secretariat alone may not be able to do this as a nation-wide exercise and therefore appropriate government agencies should be recruited to fulfill this function. Such certification could be made mandatory for sale to the public.

“There are specific intensive agricultural enterprises, including protected agriculture, which are designed for the use of chemical fertilizers and specialized pesticides. They should be allowed to use part of their foreign exchange earnings to import these special fertilizers. A system should be put in place so that this section, collectively or through the registered importers, can use this facility, if it is not already in place.

“The National Fertilizer Secretariat should grant temporary approvals to direct users or others with foreign currency balances to import these fertilizers while following the processes established by the Secretariat.”

The unstructured and politically motivated subsidy system has been a blight on the country that is not limited to agriculture. Therefore, this practice should not be reintroduced as it is currently being discussed and reported in the media, offering false hope to farmers and discouraging them from starting crops using available resources. Any sector or individual believing and insisting on the use of chemical fertilizers should be prepared to pay the market price.

It would be morally reprehensible to offer such subsidies, which are financed by the national treasury, and whose burden is shared equally by those who have chosen to find ways and means to become self-sufficient and not dependent on imports.

“The purchase price of major food items such as paddy, maize and pulses should reflect the true cost of production without any subsidy. Therefore, those who had the courage to opt for less expensive alternatives would be further encouraged.

Compulsory declaration of paddy and rice stocks held by the operating oligarchy of the big rice millers who have manipulated the market with impunity and the price control system in disarray and the consumer protection agencies sidelined . Failure to comply with these regulations should be strictly treated as a deterrent.

They say the essential safety net that should be in place for the segment of society, which is so deserving of support, cannot be served by general grants.

Alternative means like a properly managed and monitored Samurdhi system, again not politically manipulated, should be used for this. It does not require any foreign currency.

“An urgent program is needed to discourage the current attitudes of a large part of the population of expecting handouts and all kinds of services from the state. The state should only be a facilitator and enabler to provide equitable access to necessary inputs and services. All media, public and private, should be enlisted to implement this paradigm shift, which would inspire us all to seek opportunities rather than handouts which, in effect, continue to make Sri Lanka a beggar nation.

The time available to avoid possible food shortages, by continuing past practices, is quickly running out. As such, the encouragement of home gardening which has proven its value in the past should be strongly encouraged. What is needed is more than easy access to seeds and planting material. Promotional propaganda which is not yet adequately seen needs major improvements and should be practically demonstrated by those who preach it.

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