New Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa has lifted the ban imposed on chemical fertilisers import.
The relaxation has been published via Gazette No. 2238/45 of 31 July. The move is following recommendations of the Agriculture Department and the Fertiliser Secretariat and will be a big boon for farmers during the upcoming Maha paddy cultivation season, officials said.
Items that could be imported include nitrogenous, phosphatic, potassic mineral or chemical fertilisers, mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or three of the fertilising elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; other fertilisers; as well as goods of this chapter (HS Heading 31.05) in tablets or similar forms or in packages of a gross weight not exceeding 10 kg.
Though the ban is lifted, imports are subject to obtaining a licence from the Controller of Imports and Exports Department.
The relaxation follows widespread concerns over the ban of chemical fertilisers and its impact on short to medium term viability of the agriculture sector.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is pursuing a relentless strategy of promoting full use of organic fertiliser with a host of initiatives.
Sources said that the lifting of the ban marks a reversal of the Government’s stand against the use of hazardous inputs in farming and agri industries but the move is likely to be temporary aimed at addressing immediate concerns within the agriculture sector.
Most agri experts and the private sector have recommended a phased-out ban of chemical fertiliser giving enough time for farmers and various agro industries to prepare and prosper via the use of organic material.
According to President Rajapaksa, annually Sri Lanka spent around $ 400 million on fertiliser and pesticides. He has said any loss of yield and income by farmers would be compensated from the savings of foreign exchange otherwise incurred on the import of fertilisers.