Agriculture Ministry perturbed over misuse of subsidised fertiliser | Sunday Observer

Agriculture Ministry perturbed over misuse of subsidised fertiliser

The Government provides 50 kilos of chemical fertiliser at Rs 500 to paddy cultivators through the Govi Jana Seva centres.
The Government provides 50 kilos of chemical fertiliser at Rs 500 to paddy cultivators through the Govi Jana Seva centres.

The government is seriously looking at the effective channeling of subsidised fertiliser for agriculture purposes, as it has come across many instances where fertiliser specified for farmers is used for other purposes including industrial activity.

“The Ministry of Agriculture warned that it would come down hard on those who misused chemical fertiliser and the CID would be called to investigate. The Ministry would take legal action against private companies that allegedly pilfered the fertiliser imported by the government for their products. The government spends over Rs. 35 billion annually to import fertiliser to be distributed among farming communities at subsidised prices. However, there is information that this facility is misused by some private companies,” a senior official at the National Fertiliser Secretariat said.

Farmers were provided with urea, tri superphosphate. muriate of potash, sulphate of ammonia, diammonium phosphate, calcium ammonium nitrate, sulphate of potash zinc sulphate, kieserite and commercial epsom salt - 10 types of chemical fertiliser at subsidised prices, he said.

The Government provides 50 kilos of chemical fertiliser at Rs 500 to paddy cultivators through the Govi Jana Seva centres, while chemical fertiliser was available in the market at Rs 1,000 to those who cultivated other types of agrarian products. The government allocates Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000 for 50 kilos of the above-mentioned fertilisers.

It has granted permission to the Ceylon Fertilizer Company (Lak Pohora) and the Colombo Commercial Fertilizers Limited and 19 other private fertiliser companies to import chemical fertilisers. These importers have been instructed that chemical fertiliser should be issued only for agriculture purposes to farming communities and not for any other products.

“However, the fact that certain well-known private institutions deceitfully use government imported chemical fertiliser for other products is an open secret. If those companies want chemical fertiliser, they could purchase it at the imported market price with government approval, without engaging in unethical practices,” he said.

The Agriculture Secretary has been instructed to inform the Attorney General’s Department and the Inspector General of Police to take legal action against those companies under the Public Property Act, No. 12 of 1982.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Prof. Buddhi Marambe of the Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, he said that Sri Lanka has been branded as a country that is using a large quantity of fertiliser.

“This is because part of the imported fertiliser is used for purposes other than agriculture. This calls for a proper mechanism to identify the specific use of fertiliser on agriculture. However, genuineness of users plays a big role in this regard. It is a difficult scenario to implement preventive measures as ethical engagement is essential. On the other hand, it is important to analyse the economic loss to the government as this practice has deprived the government of tax revenue,” he said. 

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