Colombo (Daily Mirror) - It has been uncovered that a staggering sum of Rs 1.3 billion was paid to a Chinese company for the import of organic fertilizers, despite failing crucial tests and lacking the necessary approvals from the Director General of Agriculture.
The ill-fated transaction has left the agriculture sector in dismay, raising questions about accountability and the due diligence process.
This was revealed in the annual report 2022 of the Auditor General.
According to the report, the import of 96,000 metric tons of organic fertilizer, intended for use across 500,000 hectares in the 2021/2022 Maha season, took place without obtaining the mandatory Phytosanitary certificate and import permit in accordance with the Plant Protection Act No.35 of 1999.
This oversight has not only violated regulatory procedures but also jeopardized the agricultural output for the season.
The National Plant Quarantine sample tests, a crucial step in ensuring the safety and efficacy of imported agricultural inputs, reportedly failed for the Chinese organic fertilizer in question. Despite these red flags, the fertilizer was imported, leading to a colossal financial loss of Rs 1,383 million, with no tangible benefits to the farming community.
Officials are now under scrutiny for their role in approving the import without adherence to established protocols. The incident has sparked concerns about the transparency and efficiency of the procurement process for agricultural inputs.