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Fertiliser crisis: Farmers demand urgent government intervention 

  • Slam move to pay compensation for crop losses 

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

Claiming that it is ridiculous for the Government to say that it would pay compensation for crop damages caused by the use of organic fertiliser in a backdrop where the Government has been unable to afford imports of essential commodities, a farmers’ organisation has emphasised that the Government should intervene to solve the fertiliser crisis as soon as possible. 

Speaking to the media, Ven. Dimbulagala Rahulalankara Thera of the Pulathisi Farmer-Trader-Consumer Partnership (PFTCP) said: “Will the current Government, which is even unable to import milk powder at present, be able to import rice and compensate for crop damages incurred by farmers when paddy production is low. It is a mere joke if they are claiming that they can do so. Therefore, we urge the Government to intervene immediately to find a solution to the fertiliser crisis.” 

He further stated that if at least 50% of the required quantity of chemical fertiliser is provided, the current situation will be alleviated to a certain extent. “Right now, the Government is completely lying. If you don’t have the money to import fertiliser, then come and negotiate with the farmers,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Government Parliamentarian Jagath Kumara Sumithraarachchi, addressing a media briefing, stated that the directing of farmers to use organic fertiliser should be done systematically within a certain period of time. He added: “The President decided to direct farmers towards the use of organic fertiliser with a very good intention, but now we see that the methodology adopted for it is erroneous and too hasty. Therefore, this programme should be implemented in a systematic manner,” he explained.

Throughout the past few days, farmers in several areas were seen charging that there is a serious shortage of fertiliser for their cultivations over the past few months. A number of protests have also been organised by farmers’ organisations and various parties demanding that the Government provide a solution to the fertiliser shortage. 
Batik, Handloom, and Local Apparel Products State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara recently requested President Rajapaksa to rescind the decision taken to ban the import of chemical fertilisers, claiming that it was not practical to adopt the use of organic fertilisers within one season. He said that the process of applying organic fertiliser should be implemented within a period of at least six years. Accusing certain experts of having given the wrong advice that it could be done within a season, Jayasekara claimed that those experts are nowhere to be found now. 

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

It was later reported that the 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 Ministry has instructed two state-owned companies to purchase and distribute organic fertiliser produced locally by various companies. The State Ministry also said that if the locally produced organic fertiliser is not sufficient, action would be taken to import organic fertiliser and that several identified organic fertiliser-related products have, by the end of August 2021, been ordered.