News

Agriculture Department unfazed by Chinese firm’s UN threat

  • To standby NPQS results based on ‘proper procedures’

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Agriculture Department has stated that China’s Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co. Ltd., which has been the subject of controversy due to the organic fertiliser issue with the Sri Lankan authorities, is free to file complaints with any organisation, but that the Sri Lankan authorities would stick to the results of the tests conducted by the National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS) on the said company’s fertiliser samples.

When contacted by The Morning to inquire about this, Agriculture Department Director General Dr. Ajantha de Silva said that the tests carried out by the NPQS on the fertiliser samples from the said company have been carried out in accordance with the proper procedures. “We have done everything according to the proper procedures. Therefore, the company is free to go to any institution and lodge a complaint, but we will stand by the test reports of the NPQS,” he said.

A communication was sent to Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group by The Morning, inquiring about their stance on the matter, but they had, as of last (15) evening, not responded.

Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group had recently warned that they would lodge a complaint against Sri Lanka with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) if the NPQS was not to rectify its test reports over the company’s organic fertiliser, which, according to the company, are “inaccurate”, and had caused the loss of its reputation.

Following tests carried out by local testing agencies, including the NPQS, on the second set of samples of organic fertiliser from the Chinese company in question that have confirmed the presence of harmful bacteria in the said samples, the Agriculture Ministry recently decided not to import organic fertiliser from the said Chinese company.

In this backdrop, Promoting the Production and Regulating the Supply of Organic Fertiliser, and Paddy and Grains, Organic Foods, Vegetables, Fruits, Chillies, Onion, and Potato Cultivation Promoting, Seed Production, and Advanced Technology Agriculture State Minister Shasheendra Rajapaksa told the media on 26 October that China had refused to accept the results of the tests conducted so far. “They (China) said that the tests carried out on these fertiliser samples by the local agencies could not be accepted as they were not accredited laboratories. They said that this company in question manufactures fertilisers for about 16 countries, including Australia, Canada, and the US, and, therefore, asked us to understand the quality of these fertilisers,” Rajapaksa said, adding added that the Government had agreed to refer these fertiliser samples to a third party laboratory in order to ascertain their quality.

Accordingly, Schutter Global Inspection and Survey Company, the third party testing agency selected by the said company, recently stated that no harmful characteristics, such as coliform bacteria, salmonella, and ascarid eggs, were found in fertiliser samples provided by Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group.

However, Agriculture Ministry Secretary Prof. Udith K. Jayasinghe-Mudalige told The Morning last week that although Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group has the power to test their fertiliser samples through a third party, the Agriculture Ministry would not accept such reports, and that the said company would have to follow the prescribed procedure from the beginning if they wanted Sri Lanka to consider accepting the stock.