The Ministry of Agriculture is to promote the use of organic fertiliser to help increase crop yield as well as curb harmful side effects of chemical fertilisers.
Ministry of Agriculture Additional Secretary S. Amatiyagoda said that last week Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena met with professors, medical doctors and other officials to discuss the issue of chronic kidney problems affecting a large number of people in the Rajarata area due to the use of chemical fertilisers.
Chemical and agro fertilisers that are used in the agricultural fields leave some arsenic residue and other impurities in the soil.
“This type of problem is not new only to Sri Lankan but is also seen in the United States, Bangladesh and other countries,” he explained.
Although studies have not proved 100 per cent that such use is directly related to the chronic diseases, the Ministry of Agriculture is still promoting more eco-friendly means of fertiliser.
Minister Abeywardena had highlighted that along with the use of chemical fertiliser organic fertiliser should also be used, which will help improve the crop yield
“By this we hope to improve our self sufficiency in agriculture as well as avoid adding toxins into the soil,” highlighted Amatiyagoda.
With the mix of organic fertiliser and chemical fertiliser, it is estimated to double the crop yield noted Ministry of Agriculture officials.
Farmers and other industrialists will be encouraged to produce this organic fertiliser locally using locally available manure as well as make organic fertiliser with other compositions.
The use of organic fertiliser for agriculture is to be enhanced islandwide for various types of crop cultivations.
“We hope that this will help the soil and its microbiology, which in turn will help its fertility as less toxins will be absorbed into the ground which in turn may move towards water outlets as well.”
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, composting is the natural process of decomposition of organic materials by microorganisms under controlled conditions.
Raw organic materials such as crop residues, animal waste, green manure, aquatic plants, industrial waste, city waste, food garbage, etc. enhance their suitability for application to the soil as a fertilising resource, after having undergone composting.
The end product of the process is compost or humus, which is of value in agriculture.
In addition, compost could be considered as a value-added product of organic materials, which has a high commercial value when compared to many other forms of organic materials,” explained Amatiyagoda. (SS)
Tax hike on potatoes
The import tax on potatoes has been increased from Rs. 20 to Rs. 30 per kilo in an effort to protect the local potato farmers.
Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena had recently visited the Nuwara Eliya area vegetable cultivators and the potato cultivators had highlighted that if the Government imports potatoes, it should ensure that they will not be left with excess stocks of potatoes and thereby suffer a loss.
In this background, the import tax on potatoes has been temporarily increased to ensure no loss of profits for the local potato cultivators.
This import tax was increased by Rs. 10 on 3 May.