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Govt. delays payments to organic fertilizer suppliers

3 October 2022 12:01 am - 4     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Local organic fertilizer is of good standard and test reports issued by institutions under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture prove that

 

  • A commission was obtained from the Chinese vessel bringing organic fertilizer to replace chemical fertilizer
  • The Department of Agriculture has recommended using 70% chemical fertilizer and 30% organic fertilizer to cultivate during this Maha season
  • Ceylon Eco Friendly Fertilizer Manufacturers Association (CEFFMA) began producing organic fertilizer during the 2019 Yala Season
  •  The Government owes 16 billion rupees to local organic fertilizer producers
  • Organic paddy farming in Ampara yielded a good harvest and it was a success

 

There is no national policy for fertilizer.
“Our attempt is to supply fertilizer for the Maha Season. If farming becomes a success, we could manage the rest of our problems. We have to increase our productions and obtain a good harvest. That is all I want.” -President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Mihintale.
“We will give a 50-kg bag of urea fertilizer to those who have less than two acres of paddy lands for free and the remaining for 10,000 rupees a bag. We will also supply muriate of potash.”
- Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.

 

These are some of the recently announced statements by our lawmakers. The Government promised to supply chemical fertilizer for the upcoming Maha season. However according to sources from the Department of Agriculture the supply of fertilizer has become an issue due to the lack of dollars; needed to import fertilizer. An alternative will have to be sought to cultivate during the upcoming Maha season. Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s attempt to switch to organic fertilizer didn’t work. As a result the country almost had to starve. 


Organic farming is beneficial, but speeding up the process resulted in everything going wrong. The opinion of the majority of citizens was that a commission was obtained from the Chinese vessel bringing organic fertilizer to replace chemical fertilizer. The country is yet to find out what happened to both the monies paid to the vessel and the fertilizer that was imported. Since there are no dollars to import chemical fertilizer one will have to seek alternatives.


The Department of Agriculture has recommended using 70% chemical fertilizer and 30% organic fertilizer to cultivate during this Maha Season. The Ministry of Agriculture also maintains that adopting this method is the right choice. However there are no dollars to import chemical fertilizer to fulfill the 70% requirement and the best alternative is organic fertilizer. But because of wrongdoings of people involved in importing and producing organic fertilizer, farmers are unwilling to engage in cultivation using organic fertilizer.

 

“There were more manufacturers in addition to the 46 manufacturers of fertilizer. Some of them were new to the business while some were suppliers. They did not know about the manufacturing technology, but continued to produce fertilizer. Their supply of substandard fertilizer created a lot of problems recently”
- Shammi Kirinda CEFFMA Chairman

 

 


There were a few entrepreneurs who toiled to produce organic fertilizer underscoring its usefulness. Sadly they have faced a number of problems now. They were able to produce high quality eco-friendly fertilizer with the support of the Government with the project coming under the supervision of state institutions. Ceylon Eco Friendly Fertilizer Manufacturers Association (CEFFMA) began producing organic fertilizer during the 2019 Yala Season. The project was initiated by a team of six and at present the association has 46 members.


Its vision lies on its belief regarding the standard of eco-friendly fertilizer. The fertilizer reaches farmers after being subjected to all the required tests. As part of the organic farming initiative launched by Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2021, local organic fertilizer producers were tasked with producing fertilizer in addition to it being imported. They began their work, but the Government and the Ministry of Agriculture have failed to do their duties, according to CEFFMA Chairman Shammi Kirinda. 


Production of eco-friendly fertilizer comes under the supervision of the Fertilizer Secretariat. According to Kirinda a tender procedure regulates the actions of around 50 manufacturers. Registration is required prior to the production of fertilizer. Licences have to be obtained. Production changes from season to season and is supervised by the Director General Agriculture. “Fertilizer is manufactured as per his guidelines and substandard fertilizer cannot be sold nor given to farmers. There were more manufacturers in addition to the 46 manufacturers of fertilizer. Some of them were new to the business while some were suppliers. They did not know about the manufacturing technology, but continued to produce fertilizer. Their supply of substandard fertilizer created a lot of problems recently,” said Shammi Kirinda.


“Our association maintained a rapport with the Government and kept supplying fertilizer. We can fulfill the 30% organic fertilizer requirement of the Government. Two million tons of solid fertilizer is required for the upcoming Maha Season. We can produce up to two million litres of liquid fertilizer. CEFFMA can also supply bio liquid fertilizer. We make our claim only after successfully cultivating using organic fertilizer,” he added. 


The CEFFMA entered into an agreement with the Government to receive payments 28 days after the supply of fertilizer. But they are yet to receive payments from the Government. “Therefore we cannot produce organic fertilizer for the coming season. If the Government had made payments we could have fulfilled the fertilizer requirement for the Maha Season by 100%. We only received 30% of the due payment for the previous Yala Season. We cannot fulfill the 30% requirement of organic fertilizer for the upcoming season.”, he added.
CEFFMA Secretary Chaminda Hettikankanamage when contacted had this to say.

 

“We cannot make solid fertilizer with the money given to produce liquid fertilizer as the production cost is higher. When applying for the tender old price rates for raw materials were indicated. That was how money was spent to produce fertilizer for the 2021 Maha season. We cannot use the remaining money to produce organic fertilizer for 2022 as it is not enough,”
- Chaminda Hettikankanamage CEFFMA Secretary


“We started operations in 2019 with a plan. When Gotabaya Rajapaksa took a decision to use organic fertilizer in 2021 there was no demand for organic fertilizer. But the demand gradually increased. The Government gave 40% advance to fertilizer manufacturers and informed us to produce liquid fertilizer as solid fertilizer was to be imported from China. Farmers were given money to produce solid fertilizer, but not everyone produced solid fertilizer. Some produced liquid fertilizer.


“Farmers were given 7500 rupees to produce solid fertilizer when the Chinese vessel was on its way. Some produced fertilizer whereas some did not. But liquid fertilizer producers were to produce and supply fertilizer soon. Even payments were made. But the expenses in 2021 and 2022 are different. We cannot make solid fertilizer with the money given to produce liquid fertilizer as the production cost is higher. When applying for the tender old price rates for raw materials were indicated. That was how money was spent to produce fertilizer for the 2021 Maha Season. We cannot use the remaining money to produce organic fertilizer for 2022 as it is not enough. We requested from the Government for money, but we did not get any response. The Government planned a scheme. The Ceylon Fertilizer Company asked us to produce organic and liquid fertilizer for the Yala Season promising that payments would be made within 28 days. But no payment has been made to this day,” said Hettikankanamage


 The Government owes 16 billion rupees to local organic fertilizer producers. The two fertilizer companies have only paid four million rupees so far. In keeping with the agreement made with the Government suppliers should make the fertilizer available within 28 days; after conducting a sample test. Despite the present situation there are delays in making payments to suppliers. “I wonder if the reason behind the delay is the recent shift in ministerial positions,” Hettikankanamage said. 
“Sri Lanka does not have a national policy concerning fertilizer. Therefore some parties are attempting to import organic fertilizer and that is not correct. Locally produced eco-friendly organic fertilizer is thousand times better than imported fertilizers. 


Paddy cultivation done during the previous Yala Season using only organic liquid fertilizer and solid fertilizer yielded a good harvest. But nobody spoke about it. Organic paddy farming in Ampara yielded a good harvest and it was a success. Some individuals mixed Indian organic fertilizer with local fertilizer and the harvest was bad. 
We like to go with the method recommended by the Agricultural Ministry to cultivate and here the specification is to use 70% chemical fertilizer and 30% organic fertilizer. The Government has not requested for organic fertilizer produced under the agricultural ministry’s supervision yet. Maybe the Government is planning to import organic fertilizer again,” Hettikankanamage added.


Local organic fertilizer is of good standard and test reports issued by institutions under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture prove that. That is how organic fertilizer is produced locally. Our association can produce organic fertilizer for the upcoming Maha Season,” he further said. 
Out attempts made to contact Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera proved futile.

 


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  Comments - 4

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  • Ram Tuesday, 11 October 2022 09:02 AM

    Who is going to pay for this goods

    S. A. D. P. dissanayake Tuesday, 18 October 2022 09:06 AM

    I am a farmer who has cultivated three hectares of organic fertilizers. I have a large quantity of organic fertilizers (10,000 tons) at present. I would like to work with this association and request membership through this.

    Kumar Saturday, 22 October 2022 07:07 AM

    Government was quick to pay for the Chinese shit even after rejecting the ship load of it. I suppose there is no financial gain by paying the locals.

    sacre blieu Saturday, 22 October 2022 10:59 AM

    Some so called organic fertilizers sold at some agri shops and at the Jayawardena pura plant sales center, have been mixed with municipal drain sludge and cause root rot due to bad drainage of water. Maybe, this also has been sold or given to the farmers in the name of government help. this should roundly condemned and culprits taken to justice.


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