Sri Lanka’s President rallies world for agri revolution in line with nature on sidelines of COP26
Daily FT: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said Sri Lanka’s policy framework was committed to sustainable development growth despite the heavy criticism and challenges faced due to resource constraints.
The President made these remarks addressing a special conference organised by Sri Lanka on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, Scotland.
The theme of Sri Lanka’s event was ‘Rediscovering Nitrogen: Solutions and Synergies for Climate Change, Health, Biodiversity and Circular Economy’ and included Sri Lankan and international speakers.
“My Government’s policy framework emphasises sustainability. This is reflected in Sri Lanka’s ambitious updated Nationally Determined Contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Mechanism,” President Rajapaksa said.
He stressed on the imperative need for a new agricultural revolution that was not against nature, whilst pointing out that people should coexist with the environment rather than act against it.
“The challenge faced by us now is to use modern scientific techniques and practices to enhance agricultural production without causing environmental degradation. For decades, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has been a serious issue in Sri Lanka’s agricultural heartland. The overuse of chemical fertiliser has contributed significantly to this problem,” the President said, adding in this context that the Government took firm steps to reduce imports of chemical fertiliser, whilst strongly encouraging organic agriculture.
“Although the policy decision has been broadly appreciated, it has also met with some criticism and resistance. In addition to chemical fertiliser lobby groups, this resistance has come from farmers who have grown accustomed to overusing fertilisers as an easy means of increasing yields,” Rajapaksa said.
The President also pointed out that this was particularly unfortunate, considering Sri Lanka’s rich agricultural heritage.
He said Sri Lanka’s progressive agenda on the environment were being implemented despite the resource constraints it faced as a developing nation, whilst pointing out that sustaining such a policy alongside development programs was challenging for all developing nations, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President expressed hope that developed countries would extend their fullest support to such nations through development assistance, technology transfers, skills development, investment and financing support.
He also asserted that there was also a major role for businesses in this endeavour and significant returns to be made in investments in sustainability.
“All of us alive today are custodians of this planet on behalf of future generations. We must all work together to ensure its health by contributing in whatever way we can. If we all do this in a spirit of togetherness and goodwill, I am certain we will succeed in making a positive change for our people and for our planet,” President Rajapaksa said.
Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that Sri Lanka had become the first country in the world to take the decision to convert conventional agricultural lands into 100% organic lands. He said this move aimed to create a green socio-economy with sustainable solutions for climate changes.
The Minister expressed appreciation for all scientists, late, and alive, for their work on nitrogen and said: “Centuries after discovering nitrogen, we are rediscovering nitrogen.”
Environment Ministry Secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe expressed views on Sri Lanka’s aspirations on climate resilience and adaptation: COP26 and beyond.
High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to the UK Saroja Sirisena also shared views on sustainable development.
The government of Sri Lanka has adopted the policy of promoting organic agriculture by banning agro chemical imports. The move has opened up a host of new business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector. With the President and government of Sri Lanka fully supporting the initiative by providing lands and other assistance to produce organic fertilizer locally, foreign businesses/investors could explore the untapped business potential in the sector. Also, foreign agriculture companies can look at introducing new seed varieties that could provide high crop yields.
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