Tensions rise between Sri Lanka and China as another shipment contains contaminated fertilizers; India to the rescue again

A dispute between Sri Lankans and Chinese over a Chinese fertilizer ship infected with bacteria has been reopened

A dispute between Sri Lankans and Chinese over a Chinese fertilizer ship infected with bacteria has been reopened
A dispute between Sri Lankans and Chinese over a Chinese fertilizer ship infected with bacteria has been reopened

Political tussle between Sri Lanka and China over toxic fertilizers supplied by China

Amid diplomatic tensions between Sri Lanka and China over the rejected shipment of contaminated Chinese fertilizers, Sri Lanka has refused to conduct a re-test on the fertilizers.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka cabinet has green signalled for buying more nano fertilizers from India.

While twice rejected bacteria-infected Chinese fertilizer ships have created diplomatic tussles between Sri Lanka and China, agriculture rights activists in the island nation have charged that the vessel with so-called organic fertilizer is worse than a ‘nuclear bomb‘. “You can at least see the nuclear bomb but you cannot see the harmful bacteria,” the activists said.

The Chinese fertilizers were a part of 99,000 metric tonnes of organic fertilizer consignment costing nearly $5 million. National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS) has twice rejected 20,000 metric tonnes of organic fertilizer. In September agriculture scientists found that China manufactured organic fertilizer contained a harmful microorganism identified as ‘Erwinia‘.

Namal Karunaratne, National Organiser of the All Ceylon Farmers Federation complained that once mixed with the local soil, the spread of bacteria contained in the Chinese organic fertilizer in question could not be stopped and neither bacterium could be destroyed.

Karunaratne added, “Nuclear bombs can be defused before they explode but how can bacteria-infected soil be cured. If this fertilizer entered the island nation it would be much worse than the Coronavirus pandemic and we would never be able to get rid of the bad effects of it.”

He also warned that the government should not stand by a Chinese company as the National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS), which is composed of experts in the subject, is an independent institution in the country.

A number of agricultural academic organizations have protested against China’s fertilizer ship and had claimed it would have long-term consequences on the country’s soil.

The decision has triggered an angry rebuttal from Qingdao Seawin. It has accused the Sri Lankan media of using terms like “toxic, garbage, pollution” and other derogatory words to “slander the image of the Chinese enterprises and the Chinese government.”

With plans to go fully organic, the island nation had banned the use of chemical fertilizers and was promoting organic farming. But agitated farmers had taken to the streets demanding fertilizer from the government for the major paddy harvesting season. To fulfill this requirement the Sri Lankan government had planned to import $63 million worth of fertilizer from China’s Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co. Ltd.

However, China was forcing Sri Lankan authorities to pay for the organic fertilizer but the Sri Lankan court had imposed a temporary order not to make any payment to the Chinese fertilizer company. In reply, China had immediately blacklisted one of Sri Lanka’s oldest state banks, through which the transaction was to take place.

Over the last two months, the fertilizer vessel ‘Hippo Spirit‘ has been hovering around western seas off Sri Lanka at times switching off the Automatic Identification System (AIS), hiding the ship’s location.

[With Inputs from IANS]

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  1. This tens of thosand metric tonnes of harmful waste coming to Sri Lanka from China due to Government’s sudden decisuon to stop Chemical fertilizer fully few months ago.


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