News

‘No fertiliser shortage, only distribution issues’

  • Government denies shortage as Hambantota farmers protest

By Dinitha Rathnayake

 

While there may be issues with regard to the distribution of fertilisers, there is no fertiliser shortage in the country, Cabinet Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said yesterday (22), addressing the weekly cabinet media briefing.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda  Aluthgamage yesterday said in the Parliament that organic fertilisers will be used for local cultivation from the upcoming Maha season. He, however, noted that the 100,000 metric tonnes (MT) of rice to be imported will be from fields that used chemical fertilisers.

Elsewhere, a protest took place opposite the Meegasara Agrarian Services Centre in Hambantota yesterday, demanding a solution to the fertiliser issue in the country. The protest led to a tense situation between agrarian officers and farmers.

The fertiliser shortage issue and the recent decision on banning chemical fertilisers grabbed national attention where most of the farmers blamed the Government for not having proper solutions for their issues.

However, during the cabinet briefing held yesterday, Cabinet Co-Spokesman Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said farmers will have to cope with the situation for now until such time the Government would be able to establish a country without chemical fertilisers.

Most of the farmers claim that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to ban the use of chemical fertilisers for agriculture is a good but impractical one since they have not been provided a proper solution before establishing such a policy.

However, Dr. Pathirana said the Government would soon provide organic fertilisers locally or imported internationally for the farmers.

“There is a transition period for everything and we need to wait patiently to solve this problem. Maybe the coming six months will be difficult for all of us, but we need to bear it for the sake of our country,” he said.

The present situation in Sri Lanka has arisen following a gazette notification issued by the Government to ban the import of inorganic fertilisers and synthetic agrochemicals (i.e. insecticides/pesticides, fungicides, herbicides/weedicides, etc.) with immediate effect. The pollution of water bodies and perceived links to human health issues, such as chronic kidney disease of unknown aetiology (CKDU), are cited as the reasons for the ban.