Back to chemical fertiliser: Stocks to be rushed to rain-affected areas

Mahindananda Aluthgamage

The Agriculture Ministry is to obtain chemical fertiliser from stocks still in the country to be issued to farmers in some districts where torrential rains have all but washed away the organic fertiliser they had used earlier.

Torrential rains in recent days had washed away organic fertiliser used by vegetable and fruit growers in the Nuwara Eliya, Badulla and Bandarawela districts, an Agriculture Ministry source said. The authorities are yet to assess the damage caused to paddy cultivation in these districts.

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage acknowledged that the situation was serious, especially for vegetable farmers. “If we don’t take urgent measures, we could see a steep rise in vegetable prices,” he said.

The minister said he had discussed the situation with the Director General of Agriculture. As an urgent measure, it had been decided to instruct the Registrar of Pesticides to make an inventory of fungicide and chemical fertiliser stocks available at the warehouses of fertiliser importers and make arrangements to buy them to be sent to the affected districts.

The minister said he had informed the Agricultural Insurance Board to pay compensation for paddy farmers if their crops have suffered damage.

Agriculture Ministry Secretary Udith K. Jayasinghe, meanwhile, revealed that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked officials to present him with an action plan on how to proceed in case there was a threat to the country’s food security. This comes in the backdrop of reports that the rains have also severely impacted paddy farming in the Northern Province.

Prof. Jayasinghe said the plan was expected to be presented to the President by Tuesday.

(Source: The Sunday Times)