BY Buddhika Samaraweera
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has instructed Agriculture Director General (DG) Dr. Ajantha de Silva to take necessary steps to import specialised chemical fertilisers and pesticides required for vegetable cultivation, in limited quantities, for a limited period, owing to the lack of organic and liquid fertilisers for the same, and the prevailing rains, The Morning learnt.
When contacted by The Morning for confirmation and further details, Dr. de Silva said that this decision was taken yesterday (22) as there are no organic fertilisers and liquid fertilisers that can be used for vegetable cultivations as at present.
“This decision does not mean that the policy of organic farming mentioned in the President’s manifesto has been abandoned, but considering the current situation, the President instructed to take necessary steps to import a limited quantity of chemical fertilisers as there are no organic and liquid fertilisers that can be used for vegetable cultivations,” he explained.
Dr. de Silva further said that the import of chemical fertilisers will be carried out due to the current demands of the farmers and the limited space available for the use of other alternative solutions for vegetable cultivations, but that it will be limited to a short period of time.
The President has given these instructions during a meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday to discuss the situation with regard to the provision of fertilisers.
Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage; Promoting the Production and Regulating the Supply of Organic Fertiliser, and Paddy and Grains, Organic Foods, Vegetables, Fruits, Chillies, Onion, and Potato Cultivation Promoting, Seed Production, and Advanced Technology Agriculture State Minister Shasheendra Rajapaksa; President’s Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera; Senior Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga; and other officials had attended the said meeting.
Meanwhile, Aluthgamage, responding to a question in Parliament yesterday as to whether chemical fertiliser will now be imported or not, stated that the President has given permission to import “specialised fertilisers” and pesticides for vegetable cultivation in view of the prevailing rains. However, he said there will be no import of chemical fertilisers for paddy cultivation.
A proposal to ban the use and importation of chemical fertiliser, pesticides, and herbicides/weedicides was submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers by President Rajapaksa and the same was granted approval, following which the relevant gazette notification was issued in May 2021.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Ministry Secretary Prof. Udith K. Jayasinghe-Mudalige stated on 21 November 2021, that steps will be taken to re-import standardised, second-generation chemical fertilisers, agrochemicals, and essential plant nutrients required for paddy, maize, vegetables, and other plantation crops.