Ship carrying Chinese fertilizer refusing to leave
Posted on November 17th, 2021

Courtesy The Daily Mirror

The 2022 Budget, which most Sri Lankans looked forward to with the hope of receiving some form of relief or cushioning to counter the skyrocketing cost of living and the shortage of essential commodities would have been a disappointed lot. It contained little or nothing for the middle income groups and the poor to be happy about in any of the budget proposals read out by Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa last Thursday in Parliament. 


Meanwhile, the arbitrary decision to impose a ban overnight on the import and use of chemical fertilizer has resulted in the government digging itself deeper into a rut with thousands of farmers, who should be in the fields, having lost their livelihood were now taking to the streets urging the government to provide them with sufficient quantities of fertilizer to carry out their stalled farming activities during the Maha Season which began in September. 


With that said, the Chinese fertilizer fiasco resulting from the government’s refusal to accept or unload the 20,000 tons of organic fertilizer imported from China has taken further twists and turns. The suppliers were asked to take back the consignment after it was found to be contaminated with living organisms and as such unsuitable to be used in Sri Lanka while a Court Order restrained the People’s Bank from paying out funds under the terms of the Letter of Credit. This of course had led to the Economic and Commercial Office of the Chinese Embassy blacklisting the People’s Bank for defaulting payment and the Qingdao Seawin Bio-tech group Co. Ltd., a Chinese company specializing in seaweed-based fertilizer, to challenge the test results and send out a letter of demand to Sri Lanka’s National Plant Quarantine Services (NPQS) accusing it of negligence and demanding US$8 million as compensation for the loss of reputation, goodwill and its future business prospects.  


The ship carrying the Chinese fertilizer is refusing to leave Sri Lankan waters despite the authorities asking it to do so leading to what now appears to be a diplomatic tussle between the two close allies, China and Sri Lanka. The agriculture authorities decided to reject the load of Chinese fertilizer after Sri Lanka’s National Plant Quarantine Services (NPQS) had found the samples, from the consignment of fertilizer, to be contaminated with harmful or toxic bacteria. 


The tests carried out on the samples showed that the Chinese fertilizer was not sterile,” Agriculture Department’s Director General Dr. Ajantha De Silva had told BBC. We have identified bacteria which are harmful to plants like carrots and potatoes”.


NPQS Additional Director Dr. W.N.R. Wickramarachchi said his department maintained the position that the tests were carried out in accordance with International Standards and that the results were accurate. He said the NPQS was set up through an Act of Parliament and was a State institution vested with the serious responsibility of ensuring that harmful pathogens do not enter Sri Lanka and added that the NPQS carried out tests on samples irrespective of the country of origin and the company involved.


In a further development to the fertilizer quagmire, China’s Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co. Ltd., has warned the National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS) that the company would lodge a complaint against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organziation (FAO), if the NPQS failed to rectify its ‘inaccurate’ report with regard to the company’s consignment of organic fertilizer.


Can the Sri Lankan government withstand the pressure applied by China and the Chinese fertilizer company to reverse the decision taken by the government to reject this consignment with good reason? As a free, sovereign and independent nation, Sri Lanka should not allow itself to be cowed down or intimidated by any other country, however powerful it might be. 


In the wake all that has happened, we wonder whether any official or minister will take the responsibility for ordering this load of fertilizer and requesting the People’s Bank to open letters of credit even before carrying out proper quality checks? It would be surprising if anyone had the guts to accept responsibility for dragging Sri Lanka into this mud hole or whether we will ever know the real story behind this fiasco? 


The sugar scam, the palm oil scam, the garlic scam and the unprecedented environmental disaster caused by the stricken X-Press Pearl cargo vessel are still fresh in the people’s memory. In these instances too no one has claimed responsibility nor has anyone been held responsible and in such a scenario, we wonder whether one more debacle would make a difference to this government?

4 Responses to “Ship carrying Chinese fertilizer refusing to leave”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    Is it worthwhile to jeopardize the longstanding relations between two ancient countries such as China and Sri Lanka simply on the allegation of officers such as the Director General of the Agriculture and the NPQS Additional Director? It is far better to go to a third party acceptable by both the aggrieved parties and settle the matter transparently.

    Over the years the word of our own testing services are not ‘that’ reliable. There are many occassions they have been doctored to suit various parties and political factions as well as to hide the wrong doings of the so called mafias. The tentacles of the Fertilizer Mafia is long, strong and transworld!

    Therefore the best thing at this juncture is for the GOSL to intervene and get the matter sorted out before it gets ugly.

  2. aloy Says:

    Knowing the type of people involved in the case, I suppose the best thing is to test it right here in SL until it passes; this is supposed to be the method JR adopted in case of election losses.

    The so called third parties are more unreliable. They have very strange yardsticks for assessing and measurements.
    Take the case of one of our former army commanders who was supposed to be absconding in Dubai after the 4/21. It appears he has been awarded a medal for the services rendered for the US according to a news item appearing elsewhere today. One man’s poison is the delicacy of the world’s policeman!.

  3. aloy Says:

    Over to Eleina,( who is also appear to be complicit) the US Ambassador:

    So much for the hypocrisy of the so called powerful on a helpless poor country, whose citizens were mercilessly butchered.

    https://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/General-Mahesh-Senanayake-inducted-into-US-Army-Command-Hall-of-Fame/108-225070

    If this news item is falls or a joke, the editor should be taken to task!.

  4. aloy Says:

    Sorry, the ‘false’ to take the place of ‘falls’ on the last line above.

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