ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has allocated 3.8 billion rupees to purchase organic fertilizer from local producers during the next Maha cultivation season, co-cabinet spokesman Ramesh Pathirana said on Tuesday (24).
Pathirana, however, said the government will also be importing some “organically derived” nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to enrich organic fertilizers.
“The amount of money allocated for the local purchase of this organic fertilizer would be 3.8 billion Sri Lankan rupees,” Pathirana told the weekly cabinet briefing.
“We took another decision a few weeks ago in relation to the import of certain nutrients that are organically derived – namely nitrogen, prosperous, and potassium.”
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government has completely banned the use of chemical fertilizers from the next cultivation season.
The government, which was spending around 400 million dollars to import mainly chemical fertilizers, has justified its decision saying that such chemicals have resulted in more Sri Lankans with non-communicable disease like chronic kidney disease and cancer.
The government has also acknowledged that they have very low amounts of foreign exchange left for imports.
Rajapaksa in the run-up to the November 2019 presidential election promised to provide fertilizer free of charge instead of a 50 kg fertilizer bag at a subsidized price of 350 rupees.
Farmers and well as experts have asked the government to phase out the “organic only” policy.
The Rajapaksa administration stubbornly refused to compromise on the decision despite pockets of protests by farmers who demanded chemical fertilizers in the last Yala cultivation season.
“Our priority is to procure whatever organic fertilizer required locally. That is the aim of the government.” Pathirana said.
“But until we sufficiently produce that quantity in Sri Lanka, we might have to import a certain quantity of organic fertilizer nutrient enrichment from other countries,” he said. (Colombo/Aug24/2021)