Impacts of the 2021 Ban on Conventional Pesticides and Fertilizers in Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan government imposed a ban on the import and use of conventional agricultural chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) in April 2021. The ban was followed by the active promotion of using organic inputs in farmlands throughout the country. This contributed to a reduction in yield and led to a surge in food prices across the country. Together with other existing challenges in the country, including the COVID-19 pandemic, this shift to organic way of farming further worsened Sri Lanka’s economy in mid-2021.
In November 2021, the Sri Lankan government partially reversed the policy, allowing the import of chemical inputs for critical export crops. Despite the reversal, the subsidies for chemical fertilizers were not reinstated and food prices remained high and in short supply as yields for major crops such as rice had not recovered. With such dire circumstances, concern grew that there would be an increase in the usage of illegal pesticides.
A recently launched report titled Sri Lanka: Impact Assessment Study of 2021 Ban on Conventional Pesticides and Fertilizers conducted by Kynetec for CropLife Asia presents the impact of the lack of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in Sri Lanka’s farming communities, the production of key crops, and changes in the extent of illegal pesticide usage in view of the shifting regulatory and policy landscape.
The study involved a mix of 483 small and mid-size farm enterprises and commercially viable farmers. These farmers are the main decision makers on farm management and farm inputs with more than three years of planting experience and want to plant the same crop(s) in the next three years.
According to the research, almost all Sri Lankan farmers claimed it was challenging to purchase conventional inputs after the chemical ban was imposed. This scarcity of inputs yielded a number of logistical as well as economic impacts on farmers. The notable impacts of the ban on Sri Lankan farmers are:
- 50% of farmers had to purchase conventional inputs from multiple retail stores
- 79% of farmers could not purchase products they needed due to a lack of availability
- 80% of farmers had to pay higher prices for conventional pesticides
Sri Lankan farmers also noted that they ‘lost’ more than half of their normal crop yield (-54%). It is most notable that 25% of Sri Lankan farmers would have considered quitting farming if the ban on conventional pesticides had continued into the 2022 season.
The limited availability and reduction in using conventional pesticides brought a number of impacts with direct or indirect implications to the farm and land environment in Sri Lanka, including the following:
- 81% of farmers experienced higher weed infestation
- 73% of farmers experienced higher insect infestation
- 77% of farmers experienced higher disease infestation
The study concludes that 75% of Sri Lankan farmers want to use conventional pesticides in the future and the top three reasons for their preference are high control level, better speed of control, and ease of use.
To learn more, download the Kynetec report here.
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