- Cabinet approval sought to appoint special procurement committee as first move
- Govt.-owned fertilizer company to import the fertilizer adhering to int’l competitive bidding method
The Cabinet of Ministers this week granted approval to import the required carbonic fertilizer and natural minerals for 60 percent of paddy cultivations in the upcoming Maha season and 600,000 hectares of cultivated land of other crops in line with the government’s ambitious plan to eliminate chemical fertilizer and other agro-chemical application in the country’s agriculture entirely.
The government banned importation of chemical fertilizer and other agro-chemicals for agricultural purposes with effect from May 6 based on a proposal of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage on Monday sought Cabinet approval to appoint a special procurement committee on organic fertilizer and natural minerals as the first step in procuring required carbonic fertilizer and natural minerals for the agricultural sector.
Further, a technical committee consisting of experts in carbonic fertilizer and natural minerals is to be appointed to assist the special procurement committee.
The Government Information Department noted that only 40 percent of the fertilizer requirement for the 2021/2022 Maha Season could be met with the local organic fertilizer production.
“At present there are 27 local organic fertilizer manufacturers licensed by the National Fertilizer Secretariat Office and considering the production capacity of them, it is possible to supply carbonic fertilizer locally for 224,000 hectares for the 2021/2022 Maha season,” it elaborated.
Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to import the required carbonic fertilizer and natural minerals through the government-owned fertilizer company for 500,000 hectares of paddy cultivation in accordance with international competitive bidding method.
The Department of Agrarian Services will be responsible in distributing carbonic fertilizer and natural minerals to paddy farmers.
The government has vowed to compensate paddy farmers, if they face output losses due to non-application of chemical fertilizer and agrochemicals.
The Cabinet of Ministers also approved the proposal to import carbonic fertilizer through permitted licensed companies for 600,000 hectares of the other crops adhering to recommendations of the research institutions of the relevant crops.
The ‘other crops’ which mostly belong to commercial agricultural sector has been critical of the agrochemical ban citing range of practical issues in moving to organic fertilizers and minerals entirely, while abandoning use of agrochemicals in pest control. The industry fears high costs and lower output due to the ban, translating to higher prices for consumers.
In addition, the producers also warned the government of potential losses in export revenue in particular from tea, rubber and coconut crops.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet of Ministers also granted approval to import identified specific fertilizers for ‘non-foodie charming plants’, cut flower cultivations and non-soil cultivations through the import license method adhering to the recommendations of the research institutes of the relevant crops.