Target is to reduce fertilizer import by 50%
Minister of Agriculture MahindanandaAluthgamage states that soil testing report will be made compulsory to obtain fertilizer from the coming Yala season. The purpose of this national undertaking is to issue fertilizer only after submission of soil testing report.This methodology is applicable to all districts in the island.
The Minister inaugurating this national programme today at the Information and Communication Centre Auditorium of the Department of Agriculture stated that all facilities would be made available to the farming community to easily obtain soil testing report through Agrarian Services Centres.
KUPANISA officers and Agriculture Instructors throughout the island will be educated as to how the soil testing will be carried out and how those testing kits will be handled.
The Minister MahindanandaAluthgamage expressing views at the inauguaral ceremony of this national undertaking stated, ‘’ The local agriculture has 2500 year history of that long history, today is a special day. Our farming community has been misled that they could obtain higher yield if the higher amount of fertilizer is applied. Due to the same reason it was not possible to implement a national programme of issuing fertilizer upon a soil testing report.
Although great effort had been made with enormous spending, this undertaking not materialized due to the influence of fertilizer Importers whose aim is to make profit irrespective of the damage caused to the farmer, country and the soil.
Although soil testing centres have been established throughout the country by spending enormous amount of money and many a circular instruction have been issued to this effect, it had not become a reality other than demand for chemical fertilizer has been increased continuously.
His excellency the President in his ‘’SaubagyayeDekma’’ policy statement has clearly stated that the use of organic fertilizer will be promoted and measures will be taken to ensure the people’s right to have safe food.
Accordingly, from next cultivation season onward, fertilizer will be issued to farmers based on soil testing report submitted by them. Excessive use of chemical fertilizer is harmful to all living beings which leads to blind child births, spreading of kidney diseases and cases of cancer etc.
Had this programme been implemented earlier people of this country would not have been suffered like this and millions of rupees would not have been spent to cure non communicable diseases. During the last five years farmers have been provided with not fertilizer but poison. T.S.P. fertilizer have been imported even by changing laboratory report. Audit reports have revealed all particulars regarding those fraudulent transactions.
In 2019 1.5 billion Metric Tons of chemical fertilizer have been imported.During that year along 55 laboratory reports have been altered.
Recently we have revised the old standards and tenders were called in keeping with international standards. But even a single importer has not responded because they are not in a position to import fertilizer in line with our standard. They prefer to import fertilizer with excessive heavy metal content.
Implementation of the new programme got delayed due to non-availability of provisions. However we have succeeded in implementing the programme with the assistance of FAO and other line Ministries.
Henceforth we issue fertilizer only upon the soil testing report. Accordingly, it is expected that the fertilizer import will be decreased by 50%. Fertilizer need not in certain kinds of fertile soil.
In Australia only about 50 kg of chemical fertilizer is applied per hectare. In Sri Lanka 300 kg per hectare is applied. Ours is a country which uses excessive amount of chemical fertilizer, the result of which has been degradation of soil. Aspiration of the president is to make this country self sufficient in food crops. Initially it has been planned to apply 70% of chemical fertilizer and 30% of organic fertilizer. This trend couldn’t be changed abruptly. Our aim is to promote the use of organic fertilizer gradually up to the point where 100% of organic fertilizer is used.
That is why a national programme of distributing soil testing kits commenced. Many question as to what has been done by this Government. Today the Government is establishing renewable energy generating plants instead of desel power houses. No Government is found in the history like ours which concentrates on environment in this manner.
We know how much harmful gases are emitted by disel power plants. Therefore a joint effort should be made both by the central Government and Provincial Councils to build this country by preserving the environment.
Officers filling reports at officers is of no use. It should be done at the field itself. Data shall be collected at field level. It will be the responsibility of the Agriculture Research and production Assistants and Agriculture Instructors to personally supervise the implementation of this undertaking which should be implemented accurately. In the past what the Agrarian Development Department has done was to fill paddy lands. The duty of the Department is to bring more paddy lands under cultivation and not to fill the same. Paddy lands around Kandy have been filled and millions of Rupees earned in the form of commission or bribe. They all will be brought to books. Complains have already been lodged with the Criminal Investigation Department too. Yet we have an economy based on importation which should be convered in to production economy. The Ministry of Agriculture is treading a new path to make this endeavor a success.
At present engine named the Ministry of Agriculture is not functioning properly. It has been boiling over the years. Now we have oiled it and gave a new start. In the past the officials had neither been entrusted duties properly nor had they been followed up. We cannot perform this undertaking from offices in Colombo. Everyone should go to the field and joined with the farmer to solve their problems. Law should be applied strictly against those officials who are shunning duties. Last week I visited 1200 acre chillie cultivation in Batticaloa. Officials never visited it. No any support given from either the Department of Agriculture or from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Private sector institutions remain ahead of the Ministry of Agriculture. Youth entrepreneurs have achieved their success without any outside help. At present many of them reached to the position of challenging the Government. If situation goes on like this, perhaps the Department of Agriculture might be closed down. So I appeal to you all to visit fields. Join with the farmer community and do your utmost to make this country self sufficient in food. Officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, State Ministry of Fertilizer Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Agrarian Development, Kupanisa Officers, and Agriculture Instructors in the Kandy district joined this occation.