IFS warns against unregulated import of bio-fertilisers

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Harmful Invasive microorganisms could be smuggled into the country through unregulated bio-fertilizer imports by the private sector, the Institute of Fundamental Studies (IFS) warned yesterday (27).

IFS’s Head of Microbial Biotechnology Prof. Gamini Seneviratne told The Island that some foreign countries were aiming to pollute Sri Lanka’s soil to destroy the country’s agriculture sector. Therefore there was a huge threat of harmful invasive microorganisms being smuggled into the country.

Prof Seneveritane also warned farmers to be careful when using imported bio fertilizers in their cultivations.

He stressed that the threat was due to the failure to check all imported fertilisers.

Currently, there was a huge demand for bio fertilizer due to the bad impact of chemical fertilizers, but he stressed that the damage would be bigger if the harmful invasive microbes mix with Lankan soil than the damage from chemical fertilizers.

According to Prof. Seneviratne, as opposed to chemical fertilizers, bio-fertilizers were live formulates of beneficial micro-organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and algae, which when applied to seed, root or soil, enhance root activity and improves nutrient uptake and usually, only one type of micro-organism, such as a bacterium or a fungus, was used as bio fertilizer inoculants on a targeted crop.

It was found that bio-fertilizer could replace about 50 percent of the recommended chemical fertilizers NPK (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium), he said adding that it would not only save the country huge amounts of foreign exchange spent on imported chemical fertilizer, but also stimulate the buildup of organic matter in soils that could ensure sustainable yield increases over long periods of time.

He also said that the IFS had already started to produce a native bio-fertilizer on a commercial level and they had already used them in cultivation in many areas of the country.

"We have conducted a series of tests, in and out of the laboratories, during the last eight years and field research as well as completed pilot projects before we started to produce it commercially. Also, IFS bio-fertilizers are of the required standard," he said.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Ministry Secretary W. A. Sakalasuriya said that he was not aware of any problem and all imported fertilizers were checked before they were released to markets. He also admitted that some private companies were importing fertilizer without their consent.

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