A recent edition of Countryfile made a concerted effort to promote a positive view of 'regenerative farming'. But however fashionable it may be it's worth noting where utopian visions of farming can lead. A nationwide experiment in organic farming by the Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka went catastrophically wrong. In April 2021, Sri Lanka became the world’s first organic-only nation, by banning all agrochemicals.
Here's the start of an article from Foreign Policy from March that explained what happened next:
Faced with a deepening economic and humanitarian crisis, Sri Lanka called off an ill-conceived national experiment in organic agriculture this winter. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised in his 2019 election campaign to transition the country’s farmers to organic agriculture over a period of 10 years. Last April, Rajapaksa’s government made good on that promise, imposing a nationwide ban on the importation and use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and ordering the country’s 2 million farmers to go organic.The result was brutal and swift. Against claims that organic methods can produce comparable yields to conventional farming, domestic rice production fell 20 percent in just the first six months. Sri Lanka, long self-sufficient in rice production, has been forced to import $450 million worth of rice even as domestic prices for this staple of the national diet surged by around 50 percent. The ban also devastated the nation’s tea crop, its primary export and source of foreign exchange.
It would be interesting to see a Justin Rowlatt report about this. Or Roger Harrabin.