Govt. clarifies issues over organic fertiliser shipment from China

Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Plantation Industries Minister Dr. Pathirana says harmful bacteria found only in unsealed sample; hence, cannot conclude entire container was contaminated
Says further investigations are continuing
The Government yesterday cleared the air on the organic fertiliser import shipment in which harmful bacteria was found.

“It is the responsibility of the Government to import fertiliser that comply with the relevant standards. We strongly emphasise that the Government doesn’t import goods that are harmful to the country, or any plans to release such things to the country,” Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Plantation Industries Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said at the post-Cabinet meeting media briefing held yesterday.

Upon evaluating a sample of 96,000 tons of organic fertilisers imported from China, the National Plant Quarantine Services (NPQS) found banned bacteria. The samples were then subjected to a standard microbiological test to find if the samples were contaminated with ‘culturable microorganisms’ and both samples were found to be highly contaminated with bacteria, noting that after laboratory investigations, they were found to be not sterile.

The Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board (SLAEB) and the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) also found that these were highly contaminated with bacteria.

Dr. Pathirana said that testing of samples is in accordance with the tender procedure, which has been a long-term procedure, and these microbes or bacteria were found only in an unsealed sample.

“Samples are tested before and after importing the relevant goods, particularly when it comes to medicines or fertiliser. We also randomly conduct inspections on samples to ensure quality of the relevant products. These microbes or bacteria were found in an unsealed sample. Therefore, we cannot say that the entire container was contaminated with bacteria, and it is not suitable for Sri Lankan soil, but further investigations are being conducted in this regard,” he explained.

The Minister also said that these procedures are carried out in a very transparent manner, adding that it was one of the reasons why these facts are revealed by relevant institutions.

“Imports related to human consumption such as medicine, food and beverage, fertiliser are monitored closely and there are many institutions that are working together to scrutinise them,” he pointed out. (CdeS)

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Chandana Sesath Jayakody

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