News

Special fertiliser for tea plantations: Aluthgamage

  • Claims he is unaware of special fertiliser’s composition
  • Govt. moots manufacturing nano fertiliser locally

By Skandha Gunasekara

The Government will allow the use of a special fertiliser for the tea industry, The Sunday Morning learnt, while a consignment of nitrogen fertiliser from India was expected to arrive by the end of this week.

Responding to a question on the importation of fertiliser, Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda Aluthgamage told The Sunday Morning that the full consignment would arrive by the end of the week.

“Twenty-five metric tonnes of the nitrogen fertiliser is to leave India on Monday (25) and the entire consignment will be in Sri Lanka by the end of the week,” Aluthgamage said.

The Minister stated that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had instructed to provide special fertiliser solely for the tea plantation sector.

However, when asked if this special fertiliser would be chemical in nature, the Minister said he was unaware of its composition.

“I’m not sure what this fertiliser would be, as they have not given us the specifications,” he said.

Speaking about the special fertiliser to be used for tea, he said that tea was not considered a “food crop”, adding: “The President’s concept is that food crops should be void of harmful chemicals and poisons.”

According to Aluthgamage, several types of organic fertiliser, both locally sourced and imported, were already being distributed among farmers.

These include potassium chloride, compost fertiliser, and liquid fertiliser, the Minister said.

“Locally produced liquid and compost fertiliser is ready. We are giving Rs. 12,500 to a farmer to make the fertiliser and we are also giving 15 liters of liquid fertiliser to each farm. We are also giving 46 kg of potassium fertiliser per farmer free of charge.

“We have given this to the agrarian service officers for them to start distributing it among the farmers. Forty-six kilogrammes will suffice for a hectare of farmland,” Aluthgamage said.

He added that every agrarian service officer would receive all types of fertiliser by the end of the month of October.

When The Sunday Morning inquired as to whether the Government would be going back on its decision to ban chemical fertiliser, the Minister responded in the negative, noting: “The Government will not reverse its decision on chemical fertiliser.”

Meanwhile, Minister Aluthgamage said that plans were underway to begin manufacturing nano fertiliser domestically.

“We have an idea to manufacture fertiliser, not only nano fertiliser. There are a lot of investors interested in putting up organic fertiliser factories in Sri Lanka now; also, nitrogen sources. So, there are a lot of investors coming,” he claimed.

Prof. Nilwala Kottegoda and the team at the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) developed a new nano fertiliser product in 2010 and received four US patents at a time where nano fertiliser was entirely new to the scientific community.

They claimed: “In terms of the product’s effectiveness, it was scientifically sound with a 40% nitrogen loading capacity. As it was a soil application, the product showed promising results at farmer fields with 35-40% saving of nitrogen together with 10-15 % yield improvements for tea and rice.”