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Sunday June 20th, 2021

Sri Lanka has freshwater moss, seaweed, lots of chickens to make organic fertilizer: Minister

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has freshwater moss, seaweed and a large number of chickens to make organic fertilizer and the government will not have to import any, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda  Aluthgamage said.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet gave the nod to import enough organic fertilizer for 1.1 million hectares of farmland. Alugamage said domestic manufacture will be ramped up using material from the sea, freshwater reservoirs and chicken farms.

“The technology is high in organic fertilizer,” Minister Aluthgamage told parliament on June 08. “There are seaweed (muhudu pelati), fresh water moss (wauw werler pasi) and large volumes of chicken… (kukul sathwa walin loku pramanayak),”

Farmers having less than one hectare of land will also be given 30,000 rupees to produce organic fertilizer.

There has been an outcry that the government was planning to import organic fertilizer made from urban waste which may have more unknown residues than chemical fertilizer made in factories.

“Already 20 companies are importing organic fertilizer to the country. It is a thing already happening,” Minister Aluthgamage said.

“The government has no intention of importing organic fertilizer.”

There have also been claims by opposition activists that fertilizer was banned to help some organic fertilizer businesses connected to the ruling party.

Aluthgamage said the government was planning to import liquid nitrogen fertilizer if required.

The minister said that the Agriculture Ministry has already registered small and large organic fertilizer producers at the level of Agrarian Service Centres to provide the required organic fertilizer in the upcoming Maha main cultivation season.

Indiscriminate fertilizer use has grown in the country after subsidized and free fertilizer was introduced by the government in 2005 as part of an election promise in a manifesto, without a scientific study. 

Critics had pointed out that subsidized fertilizer in a vote-buying exercise led to over-use, and discouraged modern fertilizer application and the use of micro-nutrients.

Minister said in 2017 Sri Lanka had imported 400,000 tonnes of chemical fertilizer and the country has a requirement of 1.2 million tonnes of chemical fertilizer per year by 2021.

 “Although we have increased the use of chemical fertilizer by 300 per cent in the last four years,  there has been no increase in the production of the country,” he said.

The last administration introduced a cash grant instead of in-kind fertilizer but the program collapsed as private imports were blocked by a price control on fertilizer, which they seem to have forgotten to take out.

Minister Aluthgamage blamed universities, not vote-buying, for excessive chemical fertilizer use.

“Since 1965, even in our universities agriculture was thought using chemical fertilizer so we are fighting against a deep-rooted thing (pal padiuam wechher) for 57 years which is the usage of chemical fertilizer,” he claimed.(Colombo/June08/2021)


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