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June tea harvest down 1.4 m kg YoY: AKD

By Pamodi Waravita

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-led National People’s Power (NPP) Leader and Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake claimed that the tea harvest in the month of June of this year has decreased by 1.4 million kg, compared to the harvest in the same month last year (Year-on-Year), owing to a lack of fertiliser for cultivation.

“Our tea industry brings an income of Rs. 1.3 billion to the country every year. However, the harvest is now decreasing since the Government made an unplanned and sudden decision to ban the use of chemical fertiliser in the country,” alleged Dissanayake on Sunday (19).

He added that this threat to the tea industry is a threat to the country’s economy, especially considering the challenges that tea smallholders are currently facing.

He further said that since farmers cannot find agrochemicals such as pesticides and herbicides/weedicides, many are facing huge economic losses. He accused the Government of taking an ad hoc decision to ban chemical fertiliser without having a correct system in place to ensure that crops would not fail as a result of it.

A proposal to ban the use and importation of chemical fertilisers 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. However, the Finance Ministry, through the gazette notification number 2238/45 of 31 July 2021, has relaxed regulations on the import of chelated (a type of bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions) minerals and micronutrients for the purpose of producing fertiliser.