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Farmers up in arms over shortage of fertilizer

Sri Lankan farmers were up in arms over a severe shortage of fertilizers as they struggled to start paddy cultivations in the Yala season amidst the government‘s decision to ban the import of chemical fertilizers.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has stressed that the importation of chemical fertilizers will be completely stopped in the near future.

The usage of chemical fertilizers leads to a better harvest. However, the negative consequences caused on human lives through pollution of lakes, canals and groundwater due to the chemical fertilizers outweigh the profit.

The health sector has pointed out that the effects of chemical fertilizers have led to a number of non-communicable diseases, including kidney diseases.

President Rajapaksa noted that measures will be taken to ensure that only organic fertilizer would be used in the agriculture sector in the country in the future.

The President made these remarks during a meeting held with the heads of state corporations and statutory boards at the President’s House yesterday (22)

During the past two months, a land extent close to 50,000 hectares had been repurposed for cultivation, the Ministry of Agriculture revealed.

With the pandemic-driven lockdown derailing the food supply chain of the country, the government encouraged everyone who had access to unutilised land to start cultivating.

What seemed like a bright idea soon posed a conundrum to the new farmers with many facing fertiliser and water shortages to continue the fieldwork and ensure the crops are nurtured to their full terms.

Amidst that, the government also promised farmers that they will be provided concessions and encouraged them to go ahead and cultivate not only paddy, but also other crops such as vegetables, fruits, and legumes.

Many of the farmers are now getting ready for the next cultivation cycle and are raising concerns over fertiliser shortages.

“We did have a short supply of fertiliser last month as the demand for fertiliser went up with an additional 50,000 hectares of land being used for cultivation. Farmers said.

The Fertiliser Secretariat faced a lack of manpower and transportation issues due to the curfew and was not able to distribute the available stocks to the farmers on time as well. But now, there are sufficient stocks in hand and we have restocked fertiliser in all our storage facilities islandwide.”

The official also revealed that the fertiliser supply was requested to be reduced by their advisory panel as they had found out the soil in Sri Lanka contains sufficient phosphorus.

All Island Farmers’ Federation (AIFF) National Organiser Namal Karunaratne, noted that the Government has been misleading the farmer communities for a very long time.

He reiterated that the Government had failed to ready the necessary fertiliser stocks for the upcoming cultivation cycle during the Yala season.

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