- Based on success of pilot at least 1 per DS Division in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa planned
- President insists country must move forward with 100% organic fertiliser policy despite challenges and criticism from some
The Government has decided to implement a State-funded pilot project to produce organic fertiliser in the North Central Province, the success of which will see a rollout in the entirety of Rajarata.
A proposal to this effect by was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers this week.
Cabinet Co-Spokesman Minister Ramesh Pathirana said the initiative was a follow up to the Government decision championed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to promote the use of organic material by banning import of hazardous chemical fertiliser.
“Since the Government has already taken measures to ban usage of chemical fertiliser for agriculture, it is essential to prepare an appropriate program for ensuring a sufficient supply of organic fertiliser by increasing the production of the same by the start of Maha season in September,” said Pathirana, who is also the Plantation Minister.
He said the pilot project would use land and capital from the Land Reformation Commission Fund based on a proposal by Land Minister which was approved by the Cabinet.
Based on the success of this pilot project the Government hopes to set up at least one organic fertiliser centre in each of the 29 Divisional Secretariat divisions in the Districts of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa where agriculture is the mainstay.
Fresh initiative comes whilst at present there are 27 local organic fertiliser manufacturers licensed by the National Fertiliser Secretariat Office. Considering the production capacity of 10 of them, the Government last week said it was possible to supply carbonic fertiliser locally for 224,000 hectares for the 2021/2022 Maha season and to manufacture the required carbonic fertiliser for another 100,000 hectares subsequently, to make available of the required facilities for the identified farmers.
Last week the Cabinet decided to import required carbonic fertiliser and natural minerals through the Government-owned fertiliser company for 500,000 hectares of paddy cultivation for the 2021/2022 Maha season, with accordance to the international competitive bidding method, and distributing them through the Department of Agrarian Services.
Separately, a proposal was put forward to import carbonic fertiliser, through licensed companies that have permission to import fertiliser, for 600,000 hectares of the other crops, adhering to the recommendations of the research institutions of the relevant crops.
According to the Central Bank, in 2020 the country spent $ 259 million on fertiliser imports, up 17% from $ 221.4 million in 2019.
In yet another reiteration of his firm stand, President Rajapaksa on Monday said the country must move forward to implement the decision to use organic fertiliser as it would be beneficial to the people despite the challenges posed during the transition period.
“The move towards organic agriculture is not a sudden decision by the Government. This position was clearly set out in the ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ policy statement as well as in the last Budget. But the failure to apprise farmers in this regard has led to create an undue fear among farmers,” the President told a meeting with the Chairmen of the District Development Committees.
Rajapaksa emphasised that the program should be implemented for the benefit of future generations, notwithstanding criticisms from some sections of society.