Speculation mounts, as the Chinese Embassy insists that the Government of Sri Lanka accept the bulk organic fertiliser cargo on vessel Hippo Spirit sent by Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. According to information from Colombo Commercial Fertilisers Ltd, the ship is in the Outer Harbour of Colombo and has not been given permission to anchor.
Qingdao Seawin said they had sent the cargo to Sri Lanka on 23 October, but the Sri Lanka Ports Authority said the ship is not at the Colombo Port. The Chinese company in a letter has urged the local officials to subject the fertiliser to another round of sample testing in the presence of both local and Chinese fertiliser experts to confirm whether the organic fertiliser is contaminated or not. The National Plant Quarantine Service tested the sample thrice and confirmed it had bacteria and Erwinia spp.
The Chinese company insists on a fourth test now. With regard to the controversies, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture had visited the Chinese Embassy yesterday (25), Ceylon Today learns. On 22 October, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. wrote to the Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Prof. Ajantha de Silva that their vessel Hippo Spirit, with a bulk cargo of organic fertiliser would arrive at the Port of Colombo on 23 October 2021, and to call for another round of sample tests to confirm whether it is contaminated or not.
On receiving this letter, Dr. de Silva informed the Ports Authority not to allow the vessel Hippo Spirit that is carrying the bulk cargo to enter the Colombo Harbour. He told Ceylon Today that there is no way that this ship can enter the harbour and that he had given instructions to the SLPA officials with regard to it. The Chinese company said they are confident about their product and to avoid misunderstanding caused by different testing methods, they urged the authorities to allow for a new organic fertiliser sample to be obtained from the bulk cargo on board and for it to be sent to a third-party testing agent recognised by both parties to retest and confirm whether the product is contaminated with Erwinia spp.
according to scientific and reasonable testing methods. The Chinese noted in the letter that as a contract agreement, the SLSI nominated a third-party test agent, Shutter Group, which drew samples from a loading warehouse and issued them a test report to prove that their product qualifies. “After plant quarantine from China Customs, we shipped our products to Sri Lanka on 23 September and today it will arrive at Colombo Port,” they said. The Chinese have also reiterated that the CTO of their company will participate in the synchronous testing of samples at the National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS) or other suitable laboratories in Sri Lanka to eliminate disputes.
The Chinese said, “The Maha Season is coming soon in Sri Lanka and fertiliser is in urgent need now. While due to the global shortage of energy, fertiliser cost has doubled.” They reiterated their product is 600 Celsius sterile and they have alleged that due to some testing methodology misunderstanding, the test results of NPQ Sri Lanka is that their product is suspected to be contaminated with Erwinia.
“So, we strongly recommend to test again with a third party to eliminate misunderstanding and this will also be beneficial to all parties involved. We can promote bilateral friendly trade between the countries together,” the Qingdao Seawin company said. Although Qingdao Seawin is a private company, the said official letter has been copied to several Government entities such as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to China Palitha Kohona, Chairman of People’s Bank, Chairman of Fertiliser Company, and the Secretaries to the State Minister and many other local stakeholders.
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan)