Take the fertiliser or return USD 1.5M balance payment

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In an unexpected turn of events, China’s Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group has told Sri Lanka’s Government to either accept the USD 6.9 million worth of organic fertiliser it has already purchased from them or to pay the remaining USD 1.5 million, as they have no intention of returning the USD 6.9 million or sending any other fertiliser in place of the ordered organic fertiliser, which the Ministry of Agriculture has banned by law.

The current Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera had held talks with the Qingdao Seawin local agent twice, but they have not arrived at a compromise on the initial endorsement of Sri Lanka agreeing to buy their organic fertiliser and denounced that there is ervinia in their organic fertiliser.

Senior Professor – Weed Science Prof. Buddhi Marambe speaking on the current dispute involving organic fertliser said that  the Sri Lankan Government ordered the bulk of organic fertiliser and permitted them to sail. “Why was the cargo shipped without an import permit granted by the Director General of the Department of Agriculture?, he questioned. He said Sri Lanka has instead contributed to the Chinese economy.  

The Ministry of Agriculture banned the first shipment of the fertiliser in November 2021 following the National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS), the sole body that has the authority to check the samples and give clearance for shipping, found that the samples were highly contaminated with Erwinia, a matter that cannot be found in imported organic fertiliser based on the country law. “The detection method and conclusion of NPQ in Sri Lanka do not comply with international animal and plant quarantine convention,” the Chinese said and the NPQS stood their grounds that it was contaminated and did not want to revert their decision.

Over this matter the Chinese Government blacklisted the State-run People’s Bank last year as the case was pending.

China rejected that claim and said Sri Lanka did the wrong reading and later on there was a standoff between the two countries as the ship carrying the fertiliser reached the shores of Sri Lanka.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan