Sri Lanka opposition JVP raise concerns over organic fertilizer imports from China

Sri Lanka’s plans to import 63 million US dollars of organic fertilizer from a China based company after a ban on chemical fertilizer could be risky if they contain harmful micro-organisms and if they are made from municipal waste, a legislator warned.

Sri Lanka has banned the import of agro-chemicals as money printing triggered forex shortages and agrochemicals made people sick.

Opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna said the government at first said they would produce organic fertilizer in Sri Lanka, and that farmers would be compensated for crop losses from money saved from a chemical fertilizer subsidy.

“But what happened was, after stopping the local production of fertilizers, a tender was placed to buy fertilizers with 17 percent nitrogen,” Vijitha Herath told parliament.

“The suppliers said they can’t find fertilizers with 17 percent nitrogen. Therefore, this cannot be done. All importers withdrew except one.

“This one does not intend to import the requested fertilizers, but fertilizers that only have 5-8 percent nitrogen.”

He said, a company called Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group, a China based company, had now got a 63 million US dollar contract to supply organic fertilizer.

Herath questioned what the organic fertilizer was made of warning that municipal waste fertilizer could contain harmful residues.

He said a sample was brought and supposedly tested and found to contain Erwinia bacteria through the government had said organic fertilizer was supposed to be sanitized or sterilized.

Some species of Erwinia bacteria are plant pathogens which destroy crops.

Herath said now claims were made that the sample was wrong.

In May 2021 Hearth fired what appeared to be a conspiracy theory that authorities had banned chemical fertilizer so that interested parties could import organic fertilizer from China which could be harmful.

Environmentalists then warned that organic fertilizer from animal or plant waste could contain harmful pathogens.

Sri Lanka has subsidized chemical fertilizer and promoted their excessive use since it became an election issue in 2004.