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Indian organic fertiliser passes lab tests for Sri Lanka to import, says Agriculture Minister

October 05, 2021 04:36 PM

Colombo, Days after Sri Lanka cancelled the import of Chinese organic fertiliser after harmful bacteria was detected in the samples, the country’s Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told Parliament on Tuesday that organic fertiliser samples sent by India are suitable for cultivation and the go-ahead for import has been given.

Aluthgamage said that laboratory tests have confirmed that the organic fertiliser samples sent from India are suitable to be used in the country.

He said the National Plant Quarantine Service had given the green light for the Indian fertiliser.

The Minister said discussions are underway to import the nano-nitrogen fertiliser from India, and if there is a delay, a decision has been reached to import the fertiliser using aircraft.

He said the previous samples from China had tested positive for the presence of the ‘Erwinia Bacteria’, which is harmful to certain cultivations in the country.

The Agriculture Minister assured that the suspension of Chinese organic fertiliser will not impact the harvesting season in the country, newsfirst.lk reported.

He said on October 12 the necessary amount of fertiliser will be released for the Maha Season cultivation, which falls during the North-east monsoon from September to March.

Responding to a question in Parliament, the Minister said the government will never import fertiliser that is harmful to humans, animals, and plants and will only import fertiliser that meets the standards imposed by the Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI).

He criticised the former administration for its improper import of fertiliser to the country, forcing the present administration to suspend chemical fertiliser imports.

He told Parliament that samples are tested at four local laboratories and one international laboratory and assured that fertiliser that is harmful will never be imported.

On Monday, the Agriculture Minister said that Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd., a Chinese organic fertiliser company, will be sending a fresh batch of fertiliser to Sri Lanka after a harmful pathogen was detected in earlier samples.

‘The Chinese firm admitted their mistake and have assured us that they will rectify it,’ said Mahindananda Aluthgamage.

On September 29, Minister Aluthgamage had announced the suspension of organic fertiliser imports from China.

On September 28, Director-General of Agriculture Dr. Ajantha De Silva said the presence of harmful bacteria was detected in a fresh sample of Chinese organic fertiliser.

He told newsfirst.lk that samples from Chinese company Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. tested by authorities had once again proved the presence of harmful bacteria and stressed that organic fertiliser from that particular supplier should not be imported to the country.

On September 17, the Agriculture Minister had confirmed for the first time that a microorganism identified as ‘Erwinia’ was discovered in samples brought down ‘unofficially’ to Sri Lanka and tested.

Sri Lanka was to import 99,000 metric tonnes of organic fertiliser at a cost of $63 million from Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd.

Sri Lankan scientists have warned that the organic fertiliser from China would be an agricultural disaster as they contained harmful microorganisms.

Preliminary tests conducted on the samples to be imported to Sri Lanka showed it was infested with Erwinia, a notorious plant pathogen that causes severe post-harvest losses in crops.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently appointed a Presidential Task Force to prepare a roadmap for the complete transition from chemical farming to organic farming.

Sri Lanka's opposition Marxist party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or People's Liberation Front, charged that China would dump its urban waste in Sri Lanka as organic fertiliser.

The party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said: "We warned that it was China's waste that is going to be brought to Sri Lanka. It was a massive disaster that was to be done. A great loss has been caused to the farmers."

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