My recent history is that of being a farmer, but I am firm in my belief that even for a small country life Sri Lanka, we can and MUST release 1 Million hectares of land back into forest for sustainability of food production, climate risk, and the equilibrium of man and nature.
While it sounds incredible for one in Agriculture to say that the only means by which we can increase our Food Production output in Sri Lanka is to put back this massive amount of land, (much of which is cleared forest lands used presently in non-sustainable and marginal agriculture) this is the only means of increasing productivity of the remaining land.
One does not have to reinvent the wheel. There are enough examples throughout the world to know what is required to feed our nation. Just see the massive productivity of the Netherlands one of the world’s largest exporters of food products and flowers to see what is possible.
This last two months in Sri Lanka, showed that a little of bit of excess rain, can play havoc in previously planted vegetable crops to devastate them and increase the price of vegetables in the market to unheard of levels. If modern techniques were used, this now almost inevitable annual flooding can be managed by using new technology. Green house production is an obvious solution, as yield per sq meter is about 4 to 5 times that of other means, and more crops per annum as well as minimal degradation of soil can be achieved.
While we are wonderful at preaching the effects of wildlife on the volume of crops lost, we have yet to counter it with practical measures that work, which then will result in a substantial increase in output from the land and therefore productivity. Most of the energy of the state is taken to assist those living on marginal land that has been distributed to landless, when they should never have been given land to cultivate in the first place their knowledge or desire to farm is lacking and calling them farmers gives this time honored profession a bad name.
It is these 500,000+ families who must be moved out, forcibly if necessary to correct past errors of the state in giving them land to which they are simply not suited to farm, at a high infrastructure cost of providing roads, power, irrigation. Bogus reports are thrown out saying that the way of the future is small scale agriculture instead of large farms, however Sri Lanka does not qualify in that statement simply because we don’t have large scale food production, and most of the small scale farmers have no inclination to farm, in the first place.
We must instead assist real farmers quintuple their output using their knowhow.