Changes planned for fertiliser subsidy system

Thursday, 4 February 2021 02:24 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Plantations and large-scale non-paddy crop growers to be restricted access to subsidy 
  • Colombo Commercial Fertiliser Company and Ceylon Fertiliser Company to be merged 
  • Colombo Commercial Fertiliser Co. to become organic fertiliser regulator
  • First stage of organic fertiliser program targets 30% use 

Cabinet this week approved amending the fertiliser subsidy program to reduce access to plantations and farmers who grow large-scale crops other than paddy and to broaden the scope of the Colombo Commercial Fertiliser Company Ltd (CCFC) to increase production of organic fertiliser. 

Accordingly, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage presented a proposal that will retain the current system of providing subsidised fertiliser for paddy farmers; subject to a maximum of two hectares each season and two seasons per year. However, subsidised fertiliser for farmers that grow large-scale crops other than paddy will be restricted.

“Currently, tests have shown that a large volume of fertiliser is being misused. We will restrict the fertiliser subsidy for farmers who grow crops other than paddy. Within this year, every famer, grower and planter will be provided with a soil test analysis by the Government.

 Thereafter, once the necessary amount of fertiliser is identified, that amount can be provided to the user and they can be instructed on how to best use it,” Plantations Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana told the weekly Cabinet briefing. 

“The fertiliser subsidy offered to farmers was misused by large scale plantations and non-paddy growers. Therefore, we submitted a Cabinet paper to make changes. From the next season only the paddy famers and other crop growers will have access to the fertiliser subsidy scheme. Large-scale plantations and crop growers will not be allowed to abuse this scheme anymore,” Minister Aluthgamage told reporters at a separate press conference. 

Mixed crop farmers and other crop growers will be given the opportunity to purchase subsidised fertiliser for use in up to five hectares per year as per the quantities determined by the relevant research.

Aluthgamage also got Cabinet approval to broaden the scope of the Colombo Commercial Fertiliser Company Ltd. (CCFC), with the aim of better managing the organic fertiliser production and control in Sri Lanka.

The move will see a local organisation been tasked with manufacturing organic fertiliser to meet national demand for the first time, Aluthgamage claimed, adding that the first stage of the plan was to increase the use of organic fertiliser to 30% countrywide. “We plan to provide organic fertiliser to 112,000 hectares of paddy farmland this season,” Aluthgamage said, pointing out that Sri Lanka needs to reduce using chemical fertiliser as soon as possible. 

“Australia uses only 50 kg of chemical fertiliser per hectare, India 160 kg and in Bhutan they use only 13 kg per hectare. In Sri Lanka our farmers use more than 300 kg per hectare. This needs to stop,” Aluthgamage stressed.    

The Agriculture Minister argued that no previous Government had taken steps to regulate and plan a strategy to expand the use of compost and organic fertiliser. “We need to have a regulator to quality control and implement carbon fertiliser related work, our proposal will see the Colombo Commercial Fertiliser Company and Ceylon Fertiliser Company being merged to create one entity. 

“With the Government’s aim of increasing organic fertiliser to 90% by 2030, the Government will make CCFC Ltd. the responsible entity to reach that target,” Cabinet Co-Spokesman Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said, pointing out that up to now there was not one central organisation which focused on organic fertiliser and quality control in the country. He said a well-equipped and adequately funded body was needed to provide research and innovations in the subject area.  

“The Government wants to promote a safer, healthier and sustainable agriculture system and move away from the use of chemical fertilisers,” Dr. Pathirana said. The Colombo Commercial Fertiliser Company Ltd. will be made into an institution that manufactures, distributes and researches organic fertilisers and upscale chemical fertilisers for local use under the Government’s plans.