Sri Lanka banned the import of organic fertilizers manufactured in China after state agriculture authorities detected harmful bacteria in them for the second time.
Director General (DG) of Agriculture, Ajantha De Silva, on Wednesday urged the government to cancel the fertilizer contract with China and insisted that he would never allow organic fertilizer with harmful bacteria to enter the country.
Sri Lanka was to import 99,000 metric tonnes of organic fertilizer at a cost of $63 million from China’s Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co Ltd.
On September 17, agriculture scientists in Sri Lanka found that China manufactured organic fertilizers that contained a microorganism identified as ‘Erwinia’.
Agriculture experts warned that China’s organic fertilizer importation would create an agricultural disaster in the island nation. The Agriculture Ministry too confirmed this later but the Minister alleged that the samples which came to Sri Lanka could have tampered.
Subsequently, fresh samples of China’s organic fertilizers were brought to Sri Lanka and the DG Agriculture told the media that the new samples too were infected with bacteria.
De Silva said though the presence of Erwinia could not be confirmed, the presence of harmful bacteria in this new sample was confirmed.
Subsequently, the Agriculture Ministry stated that it would halt the importation of Chinese organic fertilizers.
With an ambitious plan to go fully organic, Sri Lanka has stopped importing chemical fertilizers and induced the farmers to make their own organic fertilizer.
The hasty decision has created chaos as rice farmers who were to start the biggest Maha season in September were without fertilizer. Economists, however, opined that the government’s decision to stop chemical fertilizer was a result of forex shortages and a lack of dollar reserves for imports.