Monday, 3 February 2014

Is it the time to go back to where we came from: Addressing the debate Organic Vs Inorganic rice farming through a new research approach?

By Chatura Rodrigo
IPS Researcher 

Achieving food security continues to be a challenge for Sri Lanka. Increasing population, changes in lifestyles, changes in food preferences and emerging middle income class demand more production.  Therefore, governments need to make sure they are self-sufficient in their staple food, in our case, it is rice 1. Records suggest that Sri Lanka has achieved self-sufficiency in rice, which as a country we have to be very proud of 2. However, there is a burning question that we need to ask from ourselves, “Is chemical fertilizer and pesticide based intensive agriculture a viable option for the future?” Much is being discussed and debated on the topic of the harmful effects of chemical fertilizer and pesticide based intensive agriculture, especially issues related to health and environment.  Some argue that Sri Lanka should look into the possibility of having more organic rice farming and some argue that it might not be viable 3. Therefore, there is a clear ambiguity, among the scholars and policy makers in establishing whether a shift into organic rice framing is a viable option or not. Existing research is not strong enough to make an informed policy decision, and hence there lies a research opportunity as well as a responsibility to all the environmental and agriculture economists of the country.