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Academics in export agriculture highlighted that 50% of the land in the Central Highlands were marginal and degraded lands which were presently on the verge of desertification.
The Central Highlands is facing severe and increased soil erosion. Lands formerly used by tea plantation and estate companies have been deserted as according to them, the lands could not be made to bear yield any longer even if fertilizer was used as the soil and soil structure had weakened to such an extent.
According to the scientists, the answer lies in reforestation, especially on rocky cliffs and rocky outcrops, land strip by land strip, using endemic and indigenous plant species. Reforestation will also aid in the prevention of soil erosion. China and Israel converts deserts into forests using technology. Natural microorganisms too should be introduced. The entire process is termed anti-desertification.
Professor at the Department of Export Agriculture of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the Sabaragamuwa University, Priyantha I. Yapa said that alien species such as Pinus, Eucalyptus and Acacia had to be gradually weeded out.
He noted that agrochemicals such as chemical fertilizer could not be used in the process, adding that only natural methods could be used.
He added that the support of soil scientists, officials from the Departments of Forest Conservation and Wildlife Conservation, geologists and specialists on plant varieties was essential for the success of the endeavour.
“As in the case of Ethiopia, we are currently in the process of creating man made deserts in the Central Highlands,” Yapa further said.

RLJ