Soon after Sri Lanka’s decision to ban synthetic fertilizers and other agrochemicals with immediate effect in view of achieving a healthy and sustainable nation, A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd., widely known as Baurs, contracted a senior team of scientists and researchers from two world renowned research institutions in Switzerland specializing in organic agriculture who visited the country on a 10-day diverse study during early August.
This timely initiative, to assess the situation in Sri Lanka and provide solutions to manage the transition to organic farming, from Baurs was welcomed by various stakeholders in the industry including academics, research institutions, industry experts and related government heads.
During their visit, they observed numerous possible sources of organic waste that could be utilized for fertilization and was impressed by many activities and studies carried out in crop management and compost production which are however presently only at a niche, experimental stage, hinting that their large-scale implementation has a long way to go.
They encountered a set of complex issues, especially to do with the type of crop.
Some crops such as spices or rubber for instance will relatively have an easy and quick growing in an organic system whereas crucial crops like rice and tea would experience more difficulty to adapt to a production system without usage of mineral fertilizers, citing particularly due to their high nitrogen demand, stressing that it is the fertilization of this element (N) that is the bottleneck in a system without synthetic fertilizers.
‘We are making great progress in taking the lead on putting together scientific and professional expertise and knowledge in the organic fertilizer challenge through meaningful strategic collaborations.
There is a lot to expect in the coming weeks with this ongoing study and experts are convinced that if the transition is managed well it could open up sustainable prospects for the future of the country both ecologically and economically,’ said Rolf Blaser, Managing Director/CEO of A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd.
The preliminary report findings also suggested steps in how to succeed in this ecological transition given the current situation in the country which requires immediate solutions, recommending that farmers must be provided with options for soil fertility management without synthetic fertilizers for the Maha season that is already underway.
Baurs Deputy MD/Director Agriculture Janaka Gunasekara said that ‘the findings stressed on the importance of managing the system change effectively without implementing too hastily as it could impose a higher risk of failure, suggesting a list of numerous accompanying measures to support farmers and producers during the transition, including prioritizing training and knowledge-sharing initiatives among farmers, which are more specific to the crop, location, and situation.
The report also added that farmers be given reassurance of utmost support and clear direction without changing policies and rules time and time again.’