Checks on indiscriminate usage of chemical fertiliser and agrochemicals

Saturday, 27 July 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

With the rising incidences of chronic kidney diseases in the agricultural areas of the island, the Government is taking measures to control the indiscriminate usage of chemical fertiliser and agrochemicals by the farmers. According to the Government the country is experiencing adverse effects of the use of chemical fertiliser and agrochemicals introduced to increase crop productivity and ensure food security. Although Sri Lanka has become self-sufficient in rice and some other crops, the adverse effects of chemical usage such as damage to bio-diversity, contamination of water and soil due to chemical substances leading to various health problems, particularly renal diseases in agricultural areas such as North Central and Eastern Provinces, are becoming costly for the country. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) study, in recent years, a significant increase in Chronic Kidney Disease of uncertain etiology cases has been observed in some parts of Sri Lanka, especially in North Central, North Western, Uva and Eastern provinces. A joint research project conducted by the Government and the WHO found that the high prevalence of chronic kidney disease in the country’s main agricultural production regions is caused by fertiliser and pesticide use. The Health Ministry, which commissioned the WHO study, says the number of affected people in the country had grown to 450,000 although uncertainty prevails over the exact cause of the kidney disease. The Government has therefore, initiated measures to control the use of agrochemicals and fertiliser consumption and promote the use of organic fertiliser in farm lands. A Cabinet Sub-Committee that has been appointed to study the issue and recommend measures to be adopted has submitted its report to the Cabinet at its Meeting held on Thursday. The Sub-Committee chaired by the Senior Minister for Rural Affairs Athauda Seneviratne and attended by 13 Ministers has recommended 19 long term measures and 10 short terms measures in their report. Secretaries to the relevant ministries and 58 scientists were also involved in the deliberations and the Committee has also considered the proposals submitted by the Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena in making the recommendations. Among the short-term measures recommended are the maximum utilisation of easily available organic substances for cultivations, encouraging farmers to use organic fertiliser in addition to chemical fertiliser, increasing the efficiency of chemical fertiliser being used in cultivations, improvement of soil and maintaining viability of soil fertility, dissemination of compost production with due standard and minimisation of environment pollution. The Cabinet has approved the recommendations for implementation, giving due consideration to the observations made in this regard by the Minister of Finance and Planning; and the Minister of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities. A Cabinet Sub- Committee and an Officials’ Committee were also appointed to monitor the implementation of the recommendations.