Sri Lanka’s pursuit to become World’s 1st 100% Organic Food Producer

Sri Lanka’s quest to become the first 100 percent organic food producer in the world, threatens the country’s prized tea industry and raises fears of a major crop disaster that could give the troubled economy a further blow. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa banned chemical fertilisers this year to start his organic race,  however, tea plantation owners predict crops might fail as quickly as October, with cinnamon, pepper and staples corresponding to rice additionally going through trouble.

Herman Gunaratne, a master tea maker and one of 46 experts chosen by Rajapaksa to guide the organic revolution, concerns the worst. At Ahangama, 160 km (100 miles) south of Colombo, Gunaratne said, “The ban has drawn the tea industry into complete disarray.” Guranatne who is 76-year-old, and grows the world’s most expensive tea, fear that Sri Lanka’s average harvest crop of 300 million kg (660 million pounds) will be cut in half unless the government changes course. 

However, tea is Sri Lanka’s largest single export, bringing in more than $1.25 billion per year and accounting for roughly 10% of the country’s export earnings. Sri Lanka is in the grip of a pandemic-caused economic crisis, with GDP dropping by more than 3% last year and the government’s hopes for a return to growth dashed by a new coronavirus wave. Fertilizers and pesticides are among many of the key imports – including vehicles and spare parts – that the government has halted to fight foreign currency shortages.