Permission sought to import pesticides, fungicides
a year ago
Agriculture Ministry makes request from Prez
BY Buddhika SamaraweeraThe Agriculture Ministry has requested permission from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to import agrochemicals, such as pesticides and fungicides required for selected crops, in limited quantities.Speaking during a discussion at the Presidential Media Unit (PMU) yesterday (28), Agriculture Minister 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 potato and onion, as they are susceptible to diseases that cannot be treated organically.“There are diseases that grow on crops like potatoes and onions. We have no other organic solution for them. Therefore, we requested the President to grant permission to bring in a very small quantity of such.”Aluthgamage also said that there are four categories of pesticides and fungicides, and that the focus is on importing pesticides and fungicides belonging to the third and fourth categories.“We hope to prepare a list of such pesticides and fungicides in the future,” he said.Speaking further, he said that pesticides and fungicides for which the permission was sought to be imported, would be imported if approval is given and kept in the possession of the Agriculture Department. Adding that it is hoped to distribute them on the recommendation of the agrarian instructor in each area, Aluthgamage said that the open market, however, would not be allowed to sell them.“For example, pesticides or fungicides would be distributed on the recommendation of the Agrarian Instructor in Nuwara Eliya. After that, it will be designated as a non-organic zone.”When contacted by The Morning to query whether the said request has been granted approval by the President, President’s Spokesman Kingsly Rathnayake said that no decision has been taken to reverse the Government’s decision to ban the importation of chemical fertiliser, pesticides, and herbicides/weedicides.Meanwhile, thanking the Government for efforts made to release 5,000 metric tonnes (MT) of urea chemical fertiliser for the corn cultivators in Anuradhapura, State Minister of Solar Power, Wind, and Hydro Power Generation Projects Development Duminda Dissanayake stated that the President and ministers alike have come to the rescue of the farmers during these difficult times.“With the ban on chemical fertilisers, farmers have been left helpless. Some farmers were contemplating whether to continue farming or not. Whereas, I would like to thank President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Minister of Agriculture and other relevant officials who helped facilitate the release of 5,000 MT of chemical fertiliser which was left behind from a previous consignment,” said Dissanayake.He further stated that with the release of the chemical fertilisers, the hopes of the farmers in Anuradhapura has been re-kindled.A proposal to ban the use and importation of chemical fertiliser, pesticides, and 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 were seen charging that there is a serious shortage of fertiliser, pesticides, and weedicides for their cultivations. A number of protests are currently being organised by farmers’ organisations and various parties on a daily basis, demanding that the Government provide a solution to the fertiliser shortage issue.