A shift to better farming practices is possible, but Sri Lanka’s abrupt switch to organics offers a bitter lesson in how to change food systems in a sustainable way.
Sri Lanka’s economy is in free fall. Runaway inflation reached 54.6 percent last month, and the South Asian country is now headed toward bankruptcy. Nine in 10 Sri Lankan families are skipping meals, and many are standing in line for days in the hope of acquiring fuel.
The dire situation culminated last weekend in an uprising in which an estimated 300,000 protesters took over President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s home and offices and set fire to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s home. Rajapaksa resigned after fleeing the country, leaving Wickremesinghe as interim president.
There’s no singular cause for the crisis, which had been building for years due to political corruption and right-wing authoritarian politics that weakened democracy. In April 2019, the crisis accelerated after suicide bombings at churches hurt the island nation’s critical tourism industry, which weakened its currency and made it more difficult for the government to import essential goods.