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Reblogged:Sri Lanka's Organic Farming Nightmare

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Sri Lanka is facing an economic disaster after its government's "bizarre overnight flip" to a ban on chemical fertilizers and agrochemicals ... "to make the Indian Ocean nation the first in the world to practice organic-only agriculture."

It's not clear from this article whether Sri Lanka has fully made this transition or has just recently gotten started with the import ban, but the consequences are already grim:
[P]rices of daily food items like sugar, rice and onions have soared over twice, with sugar even touching [a] record Rs 200/kg; kerosene oil and cooking gas prices are surging; tea crops are predicted to fail in October; and there are fears over a hit to production of other crucial export crops like cinnamon, pepper, rubber, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, betel leaves, cocoa, and vanilla. [bold added]
The involvement of non-food items is a consequence of other disastrous top-down policies, and we can expect organic agriculture apologists to make much of that fact even as we have to admit the confounding variables.

Whatever the case, it is clear that completing or persisting with that transition is a Bad Idea. Below, I've emphasized just the food security consequences:
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka (Image by Jorge Cardoso, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
According to experts, three scientifically rigorous meta-analyses of organic-conventional crop yield comparisons indicate that across all crops, the mean yield reduction in organic agriculture in Sri Lanka is around 19-25 per cent. This shows that an overnight shift to organic cultivation presents a clear and imminent threat to the country's food security.

Eminent researchers have also noted that organic farming increases farmland due to its low yields. This results in deforestation, leading to large scale extinction of species and a rise in greenhouse emissions.

According to the Annual Review of Resource Economics, organic agriculture generates more air pollutants and environmental emissions in the crop production process for a unit of food than chemical farming.

Moreover, organic farming has exponentially higher monetary input costs due to a lack of usage of pest and pathogen-resistant chemicals, which increases manual labour, according to experts. The additional processing and marketing costs of organic produce is also significantly higher, analysts said. [links omitted, bold added]
There are, as always, broad lessons to learn here about the evils of central planning. A big one here would be this: No matter what you might think about the merits of central planning or organic farming, this headlong rush with a plan so plainly unsuited to maintaining that nation's food sovereignty has been a disaster.

Any public facing candidates (or, heaven forbid, officials) proposing major, abrupt changes from widespread and effective practices on which lives depend should do what it can to keep or get such politicians away from power.

-- CAV

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