Preserving food, need of the hour – University don | Sunday Observer

Preserving food, need of the hour – University don

26 June, 2022

Most Sri Lankans are concerned about the various crises that have occurred in the country these days. They mainly focus on the food crisis. Some people believe that a food crisis will occur in the near future. People are turning to home gardening without distinction. People in all areas, urban and rural, are trying to grow and cultivate crops even in their small spaces. So, we met Jayantha Kalansooriya, who is a senior lecturer at the University of Kelaniya and the former head of the Department of Sport Science and Physical Education, to talk about these crises, especially the food crisis.

Q: What is the root cause of the current crisis in Sri Lanka and the world?

A: The time when the day ends and night begins is called Gomman time. Our forefathers forbade women to go out at this time for fear that the Kalu Kumaraya would cause trouble. This is an inopportune time to go out. During the battle aganist terrorism, daytime guards and night guards switched during this period, and they used the time to attack the LTTE to win the 30-year battle. That is the time when the soldiers change shifts. Then there is no one to look after security. So, at that moment, the LTTE terrorists and the Security Forces used this time for attacks.

The next two and a half years will be spent in such a tumultuous time when two eras will change. This time is very hectic. This is a time when people have problems, friends get angry at each other, misunderstand what someone is saying, and conflicts arise. Before the time of Buddha, there was an era of solar energy in the period of Rawana. The period from the time of Buddha to 2500 years ago is a fossil age. That is, oil, gas and coal are all fossils. This is the end of the fossil age.

Q: Do you have any ideas on how to solve this energy crisis?

A: Years ago, it was estimated that by 2050, all fuels would be exhausted. 2050 is only 28 years away. There must be fuel for those years. That is only if it is shared fairly. Powerful countries are now stockpiling oil. But there is no chance for other countries. This is the last oil we see. No country will be given oil after 2025.

The news came on March 19. Oil producing countries issued a proclamation to every country to allow people to go on public transport, slow down highways (reduce fuel burns), and make all government services work from home for three days. (Like going to the office for two days and working the other three days from home) and seven additional facts regarding the fuel crisis.

It is not only for our country. It would be wrong to say that our country does not have oil because of the dollar crisis. The whole world has no oil. One example for this is the burning of an oil refinery in the Middle East. It’s not a coincidence. It caught fire, disrupting production around the world. Production is not given to the world by disrupting production. After 2025, we will get only a quota of oil. No matter how many dollars there are, only a quota is given.

They can be used only for essential services such as trains, CTB buses. An oil crisis has been created to secure oil after 2025. Then, all these things are conceptual destruction. That is what we call the destruction of time. Then, no one will talk about this. Concepts are destroyed. That does not mean we’re going back to the bullock carts. There is a young community called the Y Generation Z generation, and they are super talented.

You all have another problem with this. Are these problems occurring only in Sri Lanka? As of last week, it was said that the food crisis had affected 40 countries. But the oil crisis is not like that, the dollar crisis is not like that. Isn’t Sri Lanka falling first? Imagine for a second, when you run a race, you all fall at once, and what happens to the person who falls first? He is the one who gets up early.

He is the one who gets up and builds a new power. There is such a specialty in this country. If a new creation or a new concept is created, it can be made only in this motherland. That is not a story I would tell as a man born in this country. When we look at the history of where life began, all religions agree that it was in Sri Padha.

There are opinions that Adam’s foot is there and Muhammad’s foot is there. Bhikkhus do not say that. But our culture says that we are relatives of the sun god and the moon god. Where did the two meet? The Sun Prince and the Moon Princess are the children of those two. They came to the park. The park is Sri Padha.

Then Sun Prince played and could not go in the evening. They can’t go without sunlight. The princesses arrived under the moonlight. So the legends say that a relationship starts from here and, through it, we descend. This is a folk tale.

Then life descended into the world at the foot of Sri Padha. We have several factors for that today. There is evidence that life began on Mount Sri Pada. Zero starts anything. Zero in Sri Lanka is there close to the Norton Bridge power plant, about two miles from there. Isn’t that the beginning? Who illuminated Sri Lanka five times?

The Wimalasurendra Power Plant was the first to light up. That means Norton Bridge, then Laxapana, then Samanala, then New Laxapana, and Canyon. Sri Padha illuminated Sri Lanka five times in this manner.

Sri Padha is the source of four rivers that ‌flow through Sri Lanka. We fall first because we are the first to start. Then the rest of the world will fall behind.

When we get up, they fall. So these crises are a bit of a good crisis. This is a match between the periods of Gomman time. At this point, we can get angry. Friends can get angry. No matter how well I say it, you will not understand it. This time always causes a conflict. This is the time when we need to be patient. This crisis will only strengthen our next era.

Now there is no food, no drink, no fuel for cars, and we have to wait in lines for our daily needs. People will get bored in a few days. Then, we will realise that by 2025 we are facing this crisis. Our present era started as a Buddha era. This is not the Sakvithi era. Since the second era is also a Buddha era, the second era is scheduled to start after 2025. When Siddhartha Bodhisattva attained enlightenment, he too had to face various challenges. But the Buddha went on to victory. Such obstacles are temporary.

Q: Do you see the younger generation today eager to find new strengths?

A: Today’s younger generation is fantastic. We do not know when they will give concepts. Why don’t they give concepts now? Because concepts cannot be planted on the ground at this moment. They get ideas from themselves. But there is still no one to accept these concepts. But we have nothing to worry about. After this crisis, our country will become the best country. The prophets tell the same story.

We all analyse things from one angle. Now, for example, if you analyse the mass struggle from a mass communication angle, it is only one angle. But now, Sri Lanka needs people called ‘dot connectors’.

Charts are drawn by putting dots and connecting them one by one. But anyone who draws graphs in Excel does not have that opportunity.

Now if ‘dot connecters’ talk about the crisis, they should be able to connect one story with historical, scientific, sociological, prophet’s sayings. They see it all as one story.

There are a few people who can see that. With such a mindset, the oil crisis is not seen as an oil crisis. The food crisis is not seen as a food crisis, and as such, people can find solutions to this.

These crises are things we have seen and talked about for a long time. Those are not big things. Inevitably, crises like this come up, and there is a solution to this.

Q: What do you think about the food crisis that is predicted to occur in the near future?

A: One of the crises we talk about is a food crisis. The food crisis is not today, but 10 years ago, the United Nations Agricultural Organization’s 2020 report stated that there would be a global food crisis. So, this is something everyone knew. But there is no answer to the question in the format available. If the problem is the food crisis, then agriculture should be the solution.

If we ask someone what agriculture really is, they do not really know what it is. The question is, first of all, you have to understand the meaning of the words. Once you understand the meaning, you can activate it. Agriculture means agreeing with the culture. That’s where the food is. We have food to suit our culture. What is our culture? Are there carrots, beetroot, leeks, cabbage in our culture? No, they are not.

Then what’s inside our culture? There were about 200 potatoes and about 300 green varieties. We did not eat only grass. We have over 1,500 food preservation methods. Did we cultivate it then? We did not cultivate. It is formed by nature. Nature cultivates and we eat. We only cultivate paddy. Everything else comes to us by nature.

What is agriculture in Sinhala? It’s not even Sinhala, it’s a cultural word. “Krushi” means lean, “Karma” means action. Then the simple idea here is that action is thinner. Cultivation, oiling, and fertilising are not agriculture. When it comes to agriculture, you have to make chemicals, you have to make seeds. Then, you need to build factories to make them.

Next, you need to bring them. It should be imported to this country by ships from the country of manufacture. Then you have to do a lot of work and bring the product to us. Then, it takes a lot of work to plant one seedling. From the day the seeds are imported, the beds are made, watered, chemicals are applied, pesticides and herbicides are applied and every three months a great work is done. When there is no big profit, they shout that it is a loss. This is a great pity.

A great deal of effort is being put into agriculture. It isn’t agriculture. Birds come to the garden and defecate. If there is any seed inside feces, it will sprout in the garden. In a month or two, there will be a seedling in the garden. The plants are made of birds. Nature gives water to plants.

Lightning puts nitrogen, we have nothing to do. It is called agriculture. But that is not what is happening. We were a former nation, breaking down crops and leaving a few for the animals and birds. That is why we say we are an agricultural country. The other word for a Buddhist country is an agricultural country. We didn’t do any huge actions (Maha Karma). Paid a little karma. We were just there. That’s why we went to the temple. That is why we had time to build temples and shrines.

Nature has created everything for us. For example, the coconut will fall off, and it will rotate and stop just below the thicker side. But what we are doing today is digging a hole about three feet deep and planting it. That’s unnecessary. They are planted by nature itself. A lot of actions should be taken in England to plant, because they have no topsoil. Fertiliser is in our surface soil. Our first nine inches are our manure layer. Our people removed the manure layer and placed the seed under the manure. So, will the seeds germinate? So, we have to fertilise. We have to pay the fertiliser corporations to put fertiliser. This is a mafia.

Q: So, what is the solution to this crisis?

A: The solution to this crisis is to get rid of the foreign mafia. There is plenty to eat and drink in our garden. At this time, the Government is waging a big war to cultivate. If nothing was done, it would be over. The crops in the garden are sprouting.

This time we are working hard to plant seeds in the pot. People on 10, 15 perches need to keep plants in pots. Some 20 percent of Sri Lankans live in these cities. So, why do we hope to get those people to do agriculture? Some 80 percent are in the villages. There are people in the villages who have an acre, two, three, or up to 50 acres. They need to be cultivated.

If you grow carrots, beetroots, and leeks, it will not be agriculture. And those vegetables did not exist in our culture. We have a seed for all this. Instead of beans, we have Alanga. When the Alanga plant is planted, it bears fruit for many years, yields about nine months of the year.

It is accustomed to being in the jungle. It is a jungle plant. It does not need chemicals; it does need fertiliser; it does not need herbicides. It grows there. It bears fruit, and we only have to harvest it. There are many such local crops in Sri Lanka. They last a long time. Even if a jackfruit tree is planted, it will last for 150 to 200 years.

There are many things in Sri Lanka that go with nature. If they had put those things together and put them in your little garden, there would not be a problem in Sri Lanka. Besides, when we go to the villages without cultivating anything, there are hundreds of food crops that we can eat and drink at this moment too.

Q: How do you preserve these local food items?

A: I have added 300 things that can be dehydrated. The only thing that we can do to those is preserve food. The easiest way to preserve it is to dehydrate it. It can last for about a year. I kept the dehydrated curry leaves at home for one and a half years. We can de-hydrate vegetables or fruits that grow from time to time. There are plenty of crops and plants in any home garden. We can keep all these dehydrated.

There are a number of ways to dehydrate. The easiest thing is to dehydrate in the sun. It changes colour when it dries, but the quality remains the same. Or we can buy a machine for less money. Or we can make it at home. There are machines that work with fire. That is what we need to promote. Not crops. Recently I saw on Facebook that there are 20,000 kg of pumpkins in the Uva Province that cannot be sold.

The problem is not in cultivation. There is food. The problem is, how many vehicles are needed to bring those vegetables and fruits to Colombo? How much oil do we need? So, as a solution, we can de-hydrate those. Then the fuel issue is not an issue.

We have 200 varieties of potatoes in Sri Lanka. We can make flour from any potato. We can make flour from jackfruit and breadfruit. In the past, we used to make Kithul flour at home. Any meal can be made from flour. Many times, anything that we eat can be sun-dried and crushed. There are only 52 weeks in the year and we can make 1 kg of flour a week at home.

Also, we do not know how to prepare food. We are cooking the same way every day. Foods can be steamed, baked, cooked as curry. Food can be made into salads. When we eat differently, we can enjoy it. How much can you put in a steamer while cooking rice in a rice cooker? None of this is new. People use the internet, but nothing works. Nothing I said was new.

The secret to knowing all this is to not know anything. The mind should always be empty; the mind should be empty of knowledge. Then, we learn new things. Do not argue with what you say; we understand the depth of it. A new concept is coming. The wind blows from a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone. That is the theory. If we keep our heads in a low pressure zone, the knowledge of a high pressure zone will come. Everything is drawn to an empty mind.

We do not need to know about health to maintain our bodies. We deserve to be happy. But we are not happy if we get sick. If there is something in nature that our body is allergic to, it stinks. If force fed, vomiting occurs. Therefore, this body does not need to take any strange vitamins. Live a healthy life with everything in the garden. The body and nature are one. Nature does not do any harm to our bodies. Our body is a sensor. Sometimes, when we eat something for a week or two, we become disgusted.

That is, we have absorbed the nutrients that come from it. So, the body rejects it. But once again, we feel that it would be nice to have something to eat. This means that our bodies need the nutrition that comes from it. This body is easy to maintain when you live like a fool. Eat something you find. We have been misled by food science and agriculture. Forget all that and live simply. Simplicity is the answer to all these questions. That is the solution.

Simplicity does not mean being poor and not eating. Money is plentiful, but living according to need is not. You can’t take people to simplicity all at once. Simplicity can be achieved only after giving money. That’s how Bill Gates finally turned to meditation.

Even the Buddha became enlightened after enjoying the pleasures of the laity. So we can’t achieve simplicity at once because we always have in our mind to be rich and the idea of earning money. First of all, we need to bring people to simplicity. We need to achieve sustainability through that.

Sustainability is the result; simplicity is needed to make it happen. People must go for simplicity to build a sustainable country and society. Simplicity cannot be achieved at once. People should be made fertile first and simple second. What we need to do now is not to cultivate, but to find a way to preserve the food we have.