News

Agrochemical imports soon

  • Specifically pesticides/fungicides in limited quantities, for select crops

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Ministry of Agriculture has said that the relevant institutions such as the Department of Agriculture and the Office of the Registrar of Pesticides are currently working on the import of pesticides and fungicides in limited quantities for selected crops, and that the import would take place soon.

The Ministry of Agriculture has recently requested permission from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to import pesticides and fungicides required for selected crops in limited quantities.

Accordingly, when contacted by The Morning, Ministry of Agriculture Secretary Prof. Udith K. Jayasinghe-Mudalige said the relevant institutions are currently studying the importation of pesticides and fungicides, in terms of from which country, what type, and in what quantities.

“Especially during the rainy season, some pesticides and fungicides are needed for certain crops, given the fact that very organic agrochemicals are not available in Sri Lanka. In that case, we need to have limited quantities of pesticides and fungicides. It was therefore decided to bring in some pesticides and fungicides in limited quantities and to store such, and the relevant arrangements are currently being made in that regard,” he added.

Speaking during a discussion at the Presidential Media Unit (PMU) on 28 October 2021, Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that permission was sought for the importation of a limited number of pesticides and fungicides to be applied to crops such as potatoes and onions, as they are prone to diseases that cannot be treated organically.

“There are diseases that grow on crops like potatoes and onions. We have no organic solution for them. So we requested the President to grant permission to bring in a very small quantity of such (pesticides and fungicides),” he added.

Speaking further, he noted that pesticides and fungicides, for which permission was sought to be imported, would be imported and kept in the possession of the Department of Agriculture. Adding that it is hoped to distribute them on the recommendation of the agrarian instructors in each area, Aluthgamage noted, however, that the open market would not be allowed to sell them.

A proposal to ban the use and importation of chemical fertiliser, pesticides, and herbicides/weedicides was submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers by President Rajapaksa and the same was granted approval, following which the relevant gazette notification was issued in May 2021.

However, throughout the past few months, farmers in several areas claimed that there is a serious shortage of fertiliser, pesticides, and weedicides for their cultivations. A number of protests are currently organised by farmers organisations and various parties, demanding that the Government provide a solution to the fertiliser shortage.