Sri Lanka: Lessons from Sri Lanka on the transition to organic farming

Sri Lanka: One topic that has been circulating in Kerala’s academic circles in recent weeks is whether the state can learn anything from Sri Lanka’s economic catastrophe. Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal said openly that the state can learn from the economic turmoil in the neighboring country, which is in many ways considered a continuation of Kerala.

According to sources, Sri Lanka’s ill-advised policy of converting to organic farming and avoiding chemical fertilizers has resulted in a sharp drop in agricultural production and tea export earnings. Kerala is on the same page to some extent, as it is converting roughly 82,000 hectares of farmland to organic farming, taking a page from Subhash Palekar’s chemical-free natural farming, dubbed the “Father of Zero-Budget Natural Farming” (ZBNF). 

Kerala shifting to Organic Farming similar to Sri Lanka

According to data from the Agriculture Department, out of an initial target of 82,000 hectares set under the project titled ‘Subhiksham Surakshitham – Bharatiya Prakartik Krishi Padhathi’ (Kerala Agro-Ecology Based Biodiversity Conservation), 57,000 hectares had been converted to organic farming by March 2022, at a cost of Rs 22.27 crore, with the State government bearing 40% and the Centre the rest. 

“I will not say that the State should entirely move to organic farming without taking care of technological improvements in modern farming,” P. Indira Devi, agriculture economist and former head of research at Kerala Agricultural University, said. However, the government has the authority to experiment with organic farming while learning from scientific approaches. When we embrace a new form of farming, we must examine the long-term socioeconomic and ecological consequences.”

‘Negligible acreage’ is a term used to describe a small piece of land.

“The land fixed for conversion to organic farming is tiny compared to the overall acreage in the State,” said Vijayasree S.B., assistant director of, the Agriculture Department’s organic farming cell. 82,000 hectares is hardly a big concern in Kerala, which has 26 lakh hectares of cropland. Furthermore, the land that has been converted to organic farming has begun to produce results.”

‘Revenue generation is essential’

Muraleedharan Nair, a former Indian diplomat in China, said the state has a lot to learn from the Sri Lankan problem, whether it was agriculture policy, tourism, or NRI remittance dependence. “Even infrastructural initiatives suggested by the Kerala government, such as the Silverline semi-high-speed rail project or metro projects, have a lot in common with the Colombo port city project and the Hambantota airport project in Lanka.” Now is the time for the state to concentrate on revenue-generating projects. Otherwise, we’ll have to borrow money from abroad to pay our debts,” Mr. Nair remarked.

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