Is organic farming responsible for the crisis in Sri Lanka? – POLITICO


The dramatic implosion of Sri Lanka’s economy has many culprits. Is organic farming one of them?

The right and against a current The guys point to the country’s ban on chemical fertilizers as the immediate culprit that led President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to hand over his palace to protesters last week.

Reality: It’s complicated (as usual).

While Rajapaksa’s abrupt ban on chemical fertilizers has rattled farmers, yields have not fallen so precipitously that it would have hurt exports so much, says David La Bordesenior researcher at the International Food Policy Research Institute.

The biggest problem is that Covid-19 has sent masses of foreign workers home to Sri Lanka. Money sent home by Sri Lankans working abroad normally amounts to around $6 billion a year, well above the $1.2 billion from tea, the country’s biggest cash crop. .

“The remittance shock is orders of magnitude larger than the worst-case scenario we can imagine for tea,” LaBorde said.

Without remittances and tourism dollars, Sri Lanka had to spend more of its own currency on imports and interest on debt, which, combined with inflation, sent it into the spiral that led to its economic collapse.

“What’s pretty obvious is that there has been macroeconomic mismanagement in Sri Lanka for months, if not years,” LaBorde said.

Nor may Rajapaksa have been as “in the grip of green scents” as the WSJ alleges. He might have used the green rhetoric to justify a purely economic decision – which in turn was forced by the lack of income, LaBorde said. “They didn’t want to spend their foreign currency on fertilizer,” he said. “It was already a kind of reverse causation.”

Although declining yields and exports have not caused economic collapse in Sri Lanka, it is entirely possible to go too far too fast with organic farming. Focusing on organic is too reductive: Take farms in Africa, where lack of access to fertilizers often leads to depleted soil.

“It’s the kind of organic farming, because they don’t use synthetic inputs, that destroys their long-term sustainability,” LaBorde said. And there’s the big picture: Foregoing higher yields in order to avoid conventional fertilizers simply forces more land to be devoted to agriculture. “Instead of using fertilizers in Europe, you can get more deforestation in Brazil,” he said.

“There is an inherent tension between food safety goals and environmental goals with fertilizers,” said Colin Christensen, director of global policy for One Acre Fund, a non-profit organization that provides seeds, fertilizers, crop insurance and other services to smallholder farmers in eastern and southern Africa. “We couldn’t feed 9 billion people on our planet without synthetic fertilizers.”

How to prevent the example of Sri Lanka from aggravating Western fault lines?

More nuanced when it comes to fertilizers, Christensen says, “Different regions of the world require different approaches: for example, American and European farmers need to reduce their overall use for environmental reasons, while African farmers deserve better access, to be used effectively. , so that their children do not go hungry.”

“We shouldn’t draw generalizations or conclusions from the situation in Sri Lanka except that bad macroeconomic policy can destroy your country and destroy your agricultural system,” LaBorde said. “That’s the only lesson I really want to take from Sri Lanka.”

tug of war – US utility executives apparently know they need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most simply don’t have a plan to do so.

That’s according to a new survey of 190 utility executives released by ICF International Inc., a Fairfax, Va.-based consulting firm that advises utilities on managing clean energy goals, weather threats extremes and the challenges of energy equity.

The survey found that 9 in 10 utility leaders said reducing greenhouse gas emissions was a high or moderate priority, but only 38% were executing on a strategy to turn this priority into a reality.

In addition to 38% of utilities with active plans to address decarbonization, 32% of leaders said their organizations are currently planning a strategy, and 29% said they plan to produce a strategy within the next five years .

Barriers to achieving clean energy goals include lack of capital and fear that regulators will allow the rate increases needed to cover the cost of investments in technology.

“Public services move as fast as public policy allows,” said ICF senior researcher Val Jensen in an interview. “They can’t get ahead of their regulator.”

Read more about Peter Behr in POLITICO’s E&E News.

THE GRAND SEC OF EUROPE — Drought warnings have been issued across much of Europe, fires have driven villagers from their homes, once-important rivers are slowly running low and a brutal heat wave – which could reach a record zenith in the coming days – is putting a strain on agricultural production and the resilience of nature on the continent.

Drought has reduced hydropower and food production, adding to market pressure from war in Ukraine, our POLITICO colleagues in Europe write. In many cities, residents have been asked to limit their consumption of drinking water. Great Britain Posted its first-ever red alert for Monday and Tuesday as it forecast temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius for the first time in history, and Italy declared a state of emergency. Fires are burning in France and Portugal. Airport runways have melted near Oxfordshire outside London.

Is it climate change? Maybe. Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer at Imperial College London and a leading expert in researching the fingerprints of global warming, believes that climate change is behind increased droughts in Europe. But humans play a role in depleting water resources. “A big part of the problem is land reclamation,” Otto said.

In China, flash floods killed at least a dozen people and put thousands more at risk.

In the USAmore than 40 million people are under heat alert in the plains and central California today as temperatures rise at 10 degrees to 15 degrees above normal. Dozens of high temperature records are broken.

Finally, in Antarcticaglobal sea ice hit a record high in June, scientists from the National Environmental Information Centers at NOAA.

Welcome to The Long Game, your source for information on how business and government are shaping our future. The durability of the team is editor Greg WordAssociate Editor Debra Kahn and journalists Lorraine Woellert and Jordan Wolfman. Contact us all at [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected].

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— President Joe Biden could declare a climate emergency starting this week, according to the Washington Post.

Microsoft president envisions ‘new era’ in which labor shortages and pressure to pay higher wages are permanent.

America’s Slow Supply Chain could be further slowed down by a California truckers protest.

Experts are skeptical that the aeronautical industry can meet its emission reduction targets.

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