Release of fertilizer stocks possibly contain hazardous heavy metals without lab testsRelease of fertilizer stocks possibly contain hazardous heavy metals without lab tests

Media Release 27th April, 2020

The fertilizer secretariat of Sri Lanka has released chemical fertilizer (Urea, TSP & MOP) stocks to the market to be used in the Yala season 2020 without proper standard checks. The TSP (Triple Supper Phosphate) which contains heavy metals (Cadmium, Led & Mercury) is highly hazardous to the health of living beings, however 8000 Mt has released already and will toxify ground water and soil once apply.

These TSP fertilizer stocks have been released violating the circulars (5/2020, 2020 Amendment: Free fertilizer distribution & 1/EFF/2020: Distribution of environmentally friendly fertilizer) issued by the secretary to the ministry of Mahaweli, Agriculture, Irrigation and rural development. This unauthorized release has been approved by the director to the fertilizer secretariat, Mr. Mahesh Gammanpila, his documents claims and emphasis that this release is authorized and done without any lab test due to the closer of research labs to tests the fertilizer samples as per the currant satiation in the country. According to these documents, he also approves the release of fertilizer stocks those failed the Sri Lankan standard test but if poses European Standard certificates. However, this release measures are not acceptable solely trusting an international standard certificate produce by fertilizer supplier companies when there are many alternatives available.

This could create following critical issues;

1. It has been identified and scientifically proven that the heavy metals play a major role in spreading the prevailing CKDu mainly among farming communities. Therefore, release of untested hazardous fertilizer in large quantities could increase the CKDu epidemic and other non-communicable decease in the country.

2. Even in the prevailing economic hardships in the country, adequate measures have not taken to prevent the outflow of around Rs. 70 billion from the country to import chemical fertilizer from the countries such as Russia, Belarus and China.

3. Release and promotion of chemical fertilizer is completely contradictory to the government's program to promote and build 10 million "SAUBHAGYA" environmentally friendly home gardens in the country.

4. Questions the Sri Lanka's commitment stated by signing the Colombo declaration on 24th October 2019 to reduce nitrogen use by 50% by 2030 as inefficient and excessive nitrogen use harms the soil, water, bio-diversity, human health and atmosphere.

5. This reveals the double standards of the government before fertilizer companies and public. 6. Covid 19 pandemic has open a new global discourse on food, nutrition and immunity and shifting to chemical free agriculture, but Sri Lanka government is not committed to take this opportunity due to the pressure from the multination agribusiness industries and international financial institutions. Finally, we emphasis that chemical fertilizer subsidization will not contribute to achieve the food sovereignty or improve farmers living standards of Sri Lanka though it may provide short-term political gains. And government is responsible to responded to the public on this release of hazardous fertilizer stocks.

Thank you,
Chintaka Rajapakse
Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform