The possibility of importing chemical fertiliser remains in limbo despite the government’s recent decision to lift the ban on importation. According to sources, failure of the government to settle dues to fertiliser companies has led to this precarious situation.
Local news channel, 'Neth News' revealed that the government is in arrears of Rs. 24 Billion to these companies for fertiliser sold at subsidised rates in the past. Fertiliser companies have said they will not take a decision on the importation of chemical fertilisers until the government settles its dues in full.
Also, the prices of chemical fertilisers in the world market have gone up sharply. Neth News reported that despite the lifting of the ban, there are practical difficulties in importing fertiliser.
Previously, Sri Lanka imported chemical fertiliser from China. However, due to increased demand, China has now limited exports of fertiliser giving prominence to its own domestic needs.
As a result, Sri Lanka will be forced to import fertiliser from Russia, and adhere to their conditions and policies. In other words, Sri Lanka will not be able to import fertiliser according to the existing need.
Russia requires companies to purchase 35,000 and 40,000 metric tons of fertiliser at a time. But private companies say it is difficult to import such a large quantity at once because there is no concession.
Sampath Gajadeera, advisor to State Minister of Promoting the Production & Regulating the Supply of Organic Fertiliser Shasheendra Rajapaksa, says that global production of chemical fertilisers is in deep crisis.
He says the price of a metric ton of urea, which the government and the private sector bought at USD 300 last Maha season, has risen to USD 1,050 this Maha season.