- Dullas says no reversal of the original ban on chemical fertiliser
The Government yesterday said the Plantation Industries Ministry had appointed a committee consisting of high-ranked officials to determine the procedure to distribute liquid fertiliser containing nitrogen in ionic form for the tea industry.
The decision was made at the Cabinet of Ministers meeting on Monday, after Plantation Industries Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana highlighted the implications of not having liquid fertiliser containing nitrogen for the tea industry which was on the verge of collapse due to the fertiliser ban.
“The committee will be chaired by the Plantation Secretary and consists of senior officials. It will determine a methodology on how the specific liquid fertiliser could be provided for the tea industry,” Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Mass Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said at the post-Cabinet meeting media briefing yesterday.
He also acknowledged that the tea industry faces multiple issues owing to the unavailability of key nutrients at present.
“The committee will soon announce the methodology to distribute the specific liquid fertiliser for the distressed tea growers,” he said.
Alahapperuma however categorically said that this didn’t mean that the Government had reversed the ban on chemical fertiliser.
“Given the dire state of the tea industry the Government took this pragmatic decision,” he added.
Warning of far-reaching implications from the chemical and agrochemicals ban, and the shortage of suitable fertiliser, the Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) recently urged the Government to immediately take a sensible decision to save the industry and the economy.
It said fertiliser cost was merely 2% of the total earnings from tea exports. “We spend about $ 30 million to import fertiliser, but we earn at least $ 1.3 billion,” PA stressed.
Sri Lanka’s tea crop in July declined marginally year-on-year by 0.3 million kg to 26.16 million kg. High and Low elevations have shown a decline, while the Medium Growns recorded a marginal gain over the corresponding month in 2020.
The first seven months’ crop amounted to 187.78 million kg, up 31 million kg from the corresponding period of last year. All elevations showed gains, with the Low Growns in particular gaining 22% over the corresponding period in 2020.