An uprising fuelled by green madness… let the West beware

Demonstrators storm the President’s House in Columbo after President Rajapaksa fled

The anarchic scenes in Sri Lanka are a lesson for all governments in pursuing an economically illiterate agenda

Mark Almond – Daily Mail July 11, 2022

The anarchic scenes in Sri Lanka are enough to make the blood of any world leader run cold. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence overrun by furious protesters. Crowds cavorting on his four-poster bed and in his swimming pool and gym. Sections of the Prime Minister’s home in flames.

This burning building not only serves as a symbolic funeral pyre for Rajapaksa’s government. It is a smouldering lesson for all governments in pursuing an economically illiterate green agenda at the expense of common sense.

Make no mistake: The roots of this chaos can be traced to Rajapaksa’s wrong-headed thinking on farming. In his 2019 manifesto, he pledged to transform Sri Lanka into an ‘organic’ nation within a decade – reducing and eventually banning chemical fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides.

Sri Lanka protestors storm govt buildings. Click to enlarge

It’s a pledge that would probably win votes here, too. Who wouldn’t, in principle, want a greener future, free of nasty chemicals? But the trade-off, as Sri Lanka learnt the hard way, is food production tumbling over a cliff. For them, going green meant going hungry.

In 2020, Covid struck, hollowing out Sri Lanka’s finances and causing its vital tourism industry to grind to a halt.

Any rational government would have abandoned the pledge to hobble agriculture with eco-strictures. But Rajapaksa doubled down, announcing in April last year a total and immediate ban on fertiliser, to the outrage of Sri Lanka’s two million farmers. He was lauded by the world’s pampered eco-dignitaries at Glasgow’s Cop26 conference that November, feted as a green torch-bearer for developing nations, receiving warm praise and Covid-friendly elbow bumps in every corridor.

But what was spun as Rajapaksa’s green revolution was, in fact, cynical cost-cutting. With fewer tourists, Sri Lanka’s foreign cash reserves dried up. The government wasn’t prepared to use what little it had importing fertiliser. So it must have looked to Rajapaksa as a win-win: eco-credentials burnished and the treasury saving money.

There was only one problem: farmers couldn’t produce the yields they needed.

Sri Lanka feeds itself with rice. In the six months following the fertiliser ban, domestic production collapsed by 20 per cent, while prices rose 50 per cent. The tea crop was also devastated: the country’s most important export, and from which the lost revenue outweighed any savings made by not importing fertilisers.

What started as a dream that Prince Charles, with his organic Duchy estate, would surely approve of turned into a sorry mess of over-tilled soils, empty supermarket shelves and the hungry bellies of Sri Lanka’s poorest.

Selling your country as ‘organic’ appeals to visitors jetting in from Islington and Hollywood to enjoy lush scenery in five-star retreats – and assuage their guilt about flying thousands of miles. But today, the misery it inflicted on Sri Lanka’s people can be read in the smoke signals billowing from the presidential palace.

And let me be clear: this is not some abstract crisis taking place far away. Similar chaos looms in the West. In many countries, the rock of the ‘green agenda’ is meeting the hard place of economic reality. Farmers in Italy, Germany and Poland have been objecting with increasing anger to the destructive green pressure inflicted by their governments.

The biggest tinderbox is the Netherlands, one of the biggest meat exporters in the EU. This should be a point of pride for PM Mark Rutte at a time of world food shortage and rocketing prices. Instead, because meat production typically uses fertiliser, Rutte sees Holland’s success in this field as a stain on his green ambition.

Amsterdam has pledged to halve the use of nitrogen compounds in animal manure and ammonia fertilisers by 2030, requiring a 30 per cent reduction in livestock. Dutch farmers are understandably apoplectic and have sprayed manure over government buildings in protest. A confrontation last week in Friesland saw police firing warning shots and several arrested.

You still think green-inspired anarchy is confined to the developing world? If you push the people to the point of hunger, they revolt. Politicians the world over, captivated by the dream of a glorious green future, will do well to heed these dire warnings.

Mark Almond, Director Of The Crisis Research Institute In Oxford


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4 Responses to “An uprising fuelled by green madness… let the West beware”

  1. julianj says:

    Certainly the SL gov decision to ban agrochemicals was “green madness” … but it is not so simple.
    Conversion to organic – or better explained as ‘zero input’ farming takes years; and more prolific than chemical agric. It involves development of alternative nutrient supplies (animal manures, as composts) and other ‘enterprise stacking’ … a conversion that needs planning over at least 5, maybe 10 years. To do as the SL gov did was entirely reckless.
    In the UK – and SL – the externalised unaccounted costs of agrochemicals (eg the biggest cause of soil degradation, flood, drought & intensified storms, loss of rural wealth and employment etc) are rarely explained – and vastly exceed any gains (the reason for subsidies to enable this madness). The organic lobby are slow to explain all this – and SL like many nations, including UK, can least afford to continue chemical inputs – just another wealth extraction process !

    • ian says:

      There is much evidence that the destruction of food production is the plan and not a conversion to organic or more sustainable agricultural practices. Crops are being plowed under in the US. Chickens and turkeys are being slaughtered with the claim of it being because of bird flu. Cattle herds slaughtered. They want severe food shortages and starvation to go along with the heating fuel shortages. They want us dead. Home gardening is even under attack by the removal of many useful home remedies eg sulphur candles used to fumigate greenhouses. My son runs a compost making plant that is being obstructed at every turn, no peat allowed, coir imported from tropical regions, and they must also now use white diesel in forklifts and tractors thanks to Rishi Sunak. All these moves mean a poorer product that is more expensive. Our welfare too has never been of concern to the government hence the continued use of Roundup to “kill and crisp up”, cereal crops before harvest.

      No til and no dig production seems to me to be worth exploring at home see Charles Dowding on youtube.

      Any current agricultural policies used at this time have been pushed by government agencies. The changes in agriculture have done damage, eg to rivers by silting caused by corn growing, and slurry pollution from mass silage operations, but they could regulate that to cause less problems.

      One thing you can be sure of, is that while people, ordinary poor people starve, and they will, Fat 90 year old Kissinger, and fat arrogant Schwab, along with the murderer Bill Gates and all their mates won’t be going short.

      • julianj says:

        Thank you Ian ..
        You might be interested in our local findings; its pretty simple – small scale, low (or no) input mixed farming is vastly the most productive and most socially equitable : (sorry to quote GM at beginning (he is correct sometimes – not otherwise : )

      • ian says:

        Hi julianj, Yes there are many changes that can be made. Where I live, there are many septic tanks in gardens and agri effluent run off which greatly contribute to mineral levels in our local streams. Our local stream/river is very small but forms part of the England Scotland border. The river Sark. I live near as dammit in Gretna Green. The river forms the border til it hits Scotch Dyke, which the border then follows to the Border Esk then the river Liddle. I’ll spare you the debatable lands story. Our little river Sark is home to very few fish now, due to pollution, predation by otters, mink, goosanders and cormorants. Badgers and Buzzards have decimated the lapwing population, and the buzzards in particular, have decimated the brown hare population. The do gooders leave me cold I’m afraid. The Walt Disney countryside doesn’t work. Silage has done away, to near extinction of the curlew, although I’ll admit that peat moss destruction has helped. Never have we been consulted, but we’ll pay for the repairs with our money or our lives.