BY Pamodi Waravita
The Plantation Ministry would be submitting the quantity of required organic nitrogen (N) fertiliser that should be imported for the tea plantation industry to the National Fertiliser Secretariat next week, The Morning learnt.
Speaking to the media on 14 July, Plantation Minister and Cabinet Co-Spokesman Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said that since nitrogen is a necessity for tea plantations, the Ministry would ensure that organic nitrogen fertiliser is available for the plantations.
“We are already manufacturing the required organic nitrogen fertiliser in the country. If the local production is insufficient, we will take steps to import the required organic nitrogen fertiliser from abroad. A few manufacturers have already stepped forward to meet the demand,” added Dr. Pathirana.
Officials at the Agriculture Ministry informed The Morning that the amount of fertiliser that is needed to be imported for the tea plantation industry would be submitted to the National Fertiliser Secretariat next week.
Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference on 14 July, Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB) Opposition Parliamentarian Nalin Bandara Jayamaha claimed that small tea plantations and coconut plantations are currently facing a fertiliser shortage.
Sources in the tea plantation industry told The Morning that the quality of tea would be affected without nitrogen fertiliser and thus, the organic nitrogen fertiliser that is imported into the country must be of the same quality as that of the urea-based fertiliser that is currently in use and should most likely be approved by the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka (TRISL).
Tea currently holds 17% of the export market of the country and “Ceylon Tea” is currently one of the most sought-after tea brands in the world. A proposal to ban the use and importation of chemical fertiliser, pesticides, and herbicides/weedicides was submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in April 2021 and the same was granted approval, following which the relevant gazette notification was issued. Protests against the chemical fertiliser ban have been consistent since April, as farmers from all quarters of the agriculture industry claim that their crops would suffer greatly as a result of a hasty switch to the use of organic fertiliser.