Connect with us


MONLAR urges govt. to drop contradictory policies if serious about banning agrochemicals



The Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) has written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, urging him to put in place a mechanism to coordinate various institutions that are needed to to make Sri Lanka the first nation to ban the use of toxic agrochemicals.

Given that there is no systematic government programme to promote carbonic agriculture among farmers, it is quite likely that many obstacles and challenges, in the short, medium, and long term to implement the programme will arise. The government must come up with a plan that addresses these challenges and mechanism that can lead to a change in attitudes and grassroot realities, MONLAR says.

“MONLAR commends the decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers, on 27 April 2021, to ban the import of all agrochemicals with immediate effect. We are also grateful for your decision to approve the said Cabinet decision on 29 April 2021,” Chinthaka Rajapakshe, Moderator – MONLAR said in the letter to the President.

He says that the use of agrochemicals has had disastrous consequences in the past decades. The widespread use of these chemicals has contaminated soil and water, which has directly led to the increase in cancers and kidney diseases. This has not only negatively affected public health but also led to the overuse of agrochemicals besides undermining food sovereignty, unraveling the ecological balance, and causing the extinction of many animal and plant species.

“Since almost all agricultural inputs, used by Sri Lankan farmers are imported, it has allowed certain companies to build oligopolies. Currently, agriculture accounts for about 7% of the GDP but about 26% of the workforce are involved in agriculture. Often these workers are poor and receive government welfare assistance; most of them are malnourished and in the clutches of microcredit companies. MONLAR believes that promoting environmentally friendly agricultural practices can be a solution to all these problems.”

If the government is serious about banning agrochemicals and promoting environmentally friendly agriculture, it needs to convince the people that the decision to ban agrochemicals will not change when the political and economic context changes, MONLAR has said, pointing out that since coming into power the government has taken several contradictory decisions on agriculture.

“For example, the government initially announced that agrochemicals would be given to farmers free of charge and now it has banned them. Last year, the government said it would not allow fertiliser with heavy metals to enter the market but then it released 18,000 metric tons of fertiliser containing high amounts of heavy metals. These are only some of the policy contradictions.

Rajapakshe says in the MONLAR letter to the President that in the recent past, the government has given large tracts of land and water to companies and investors to expand large scale monoculture crops such as maize and sugarcane. These cultivations do require significant volumes of agrochemicals.

“A few months later, a decision has been taken to ban the import of agrochemicals. The government must clearly tell the public how it plans to rectify these contradictions,” he said.

Rajapakshe adds that if given an opportunity the MONLAR is ready to share with the government its experience with environmentally friendly agricultural practices.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Crisis over fuel price hike: SLPP constituents crank up pressure on party General Secretary



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Eight lawmakers representing political parties affiliated to the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) have urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to take action against SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, for challenging the government decision to increase fuel prices.

The group consists of National List MP Ven. Athureliye Rathana (Our Power of People Party), Wimal Weerawansa (National Freedom Front), Vasudeva Nanayakkara (Democratic Left Front), Prof. Tissa Vitharana (LSSP), A.L.M. Athaulla (National Congress), G. Weerasinghe (Communist Party), Tiran Alles (United People’s Party) and Asanka Nawaratne (Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya) in a joint letter, dated June 14, have appealed for the immediate intervention of the President and the Premier in this regard.

Prof. Tissa Vitharana and Alles are among 17 appointed to Parliament on the SLPP National List.

They warned that failure to take tangible measures against such actions would result in the deterioration of public confidence in the government. The SLPP parliamentary group comprises 145 MPs.

The group of lawmakers was responding to SLPP National List MP Kariyawasam’s controversial call for the immediate resignation of Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila over the sharp increase of fuel prices at midnight on June 11.

They issued the statement consequent to a hasty  meeting called at Minister Weerawansa’s official residence on Sunday.

Noting that the Presidential Secretariat, too, on Sunday confirmed that the decision to increase fuel prices had been taken on June 09 at a meeting chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and attended by Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, the group of MPs accused the SLPP General Secretary of causing a wholly unnecessary problem. The group alleged that MP Kariyawasam’s actions had caused suspicion among the electorate whether a clique was in operation in the SLPP.

Minister Gammanpila, embroiled in simmering controversy has refrained from signing the petition though he called another press conference today (15) to explain the developments.

 The group said that in view of the financial crisis that had been caused by the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic the government was forced to increase fuel prices in spite of it being an unpopular measure.

Political sources pointed out that in February this year MP Sagara Kariyawasam caused a media furore when he asked Minister Weerawansa to apologise for suggesting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should be accommodated in the SLPP decision-making body. The group that has thrown its weight  behind Minister Gammanpila also clashed with a section of the SLPP lawmakers over the government bid to allow Indian investment at the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo port.

MP Kariyawasam did not answer his mobile phone.

In addition to MP Kariyawasam, MP Jagath Kumara (Colombo District) too strongly condemned the fuel price hike.

The SLPP MPs demanding action against Kariyawasam assured that they would soon submit a comprehensive proposal to President Rajapaksa to provide support to low income groups.

The Presidential Secretariat said that the price increase was necessitated by the financial crisis caused by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) being heavily indebted  to the Bank of Ceylon  and the People’s Bank to the tune of Rs 737 bn. Of that sum, CPC owed Rs 652 bn, the biggest single amount in any of the state sector enterprises.

The Samagi Jana Balavegagaya MP Mujibur Rahman said that Minister Gammanpila owed an explanation why he made the announcement as regards the fuel price hike as the matter came under the purview of the Finance Ministry.  Rahman pointed out that Minister Gammanpila himself subsequently admitted that only the Finance Ministry could decide on this matter. The former UNP MP said that the government’s much touted claim that the decision to increase fuel prices had been finalized on June 09 at the Cost of Living Committee was nothing but a joke. “We thought the Cost of Living Committee was meant to provide relief to the people not to increase their burden,” MP Rahman said.

The SJB spokesperson ridiculed the statement issued by a group of eight MPs. He alleged that the SLPP was staging a drama to divert the attention of the public. Their parliamentary group should take up responsibility for the current crisis having promised to transform the country overnight. Those who had voted for the 20th Amendment in October last year as well as the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill last month were engaged in a futile campaign to save the government, the SJB MP said.

Continue Reading


Basil R wouldn’t have allowed fuel price increase – MP



Gampaha District SLPP MP Nimal Lanza yesterday said that if Basil Rajapaksa had been in the country, he wouldn’t have allowed the fuel price increase. He said that he strongly opposed the decision as it seriously affected the people, particularly the fishing community.



Continue Reading


1198 lockdown violators arrested



By Norman Palihawadane

The Police had arrested 1,198 people countrywide for violating lockdown regulations in the 24 hours that ended yesterday morning, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

A total of 32,593 persons had been arrested on the relevant charges since Oct 30, last year,  he said.

DIG Rohana said that special police teams had been deployed to continue the operations today as well to nab lockdown violators.

During the same period 3,051 persons travelling in 1,757 vehicles were inspected at 14 entry and exit points in the Western Province. Of them, 160 persons travelling in 100 vehicles were sent back for attempting to cross provincial borders for non-essential purposes, violating travel restrictions.

Continue Reading