Inorganic fertilizer back on the market next season; Government didn’t support ban: minister

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ECONOMYNEXT – Inorganic fertilizer will be offered for sale to Sri Lankan farmers from next season, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said, noting that the government itself did not support the President’s vision for green agriculture and that farmers’ complaints are justified.

Farmers willing to follow the green farming program will be provided with organic fertilizer and pesticides, the minister said at a meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday (13).

The minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s organic initiative failed partly because the government did not support it.

“There are many reasons why this operation was unsuccessful. One is that not even the government supported the president’s decision,” Aluthgamage said.

“We recognize that it has not been successful this season and we are not ignoring the complaints from these farmers as it is fair to say they have had some issues. Fertilizer prices went up and there were some other problems as well,” he said.

But from next season, the government will make rice seed available at the right time, and “chemical” (inorganic) fertilizer will be made available to farmers in the market, the minister said, while organic fertilizer and pesticides will be available to those who take the green away.

“It ruined my 32-year career. Although I’m Minister of Agriculture, my Minister of State is the one overseeing the fertilizer program,” Aluthgamage said.

“The reason I stood by the decision was because it was a decision made by our leader and as the headmaster, I always stand by our leader. Second, it wasn’t a bad decision and that’s why I stood by it,” he said.

On Wednesday (12/12) the chairman of the Sri Lanka-based Colombo Commercial Fertilizer Company, one of the two companies that ordered controversial organic fertilizer from Qingdao Seawin Biotech, said it would buy organic fertilizer from the company for the next season.

“We used to have agreements for 90,000 tons and first we should get 20,000 tons of fertilizer. We need to agree soon on when the rest will be shipped after discussions between government agencies and fertilizer organizations,” Methsiri Wijegunawardhana, president of Colombo Commercial Fertilizer Company, told reporters on Tuesday.

“The first delivery will be here at the end of February or beginning of March. The discussion will take place soon and the ministry will issue an official statement.”

He assured that a fresh shipment of fertilizers, which will be tested by independent labs including SGS labs in Switzerland, expects the company to receive the first shipment before the next cropping season begins between March and April.

Colombo Commercial Fertilizer is a state-owned fertilizer trader that has been importing nano-nitrogen and organic fertilizers from China so far. (Colombo/13.Jan.2022)

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