Agriculture Minister Seeks Resolution to 2021 Organic Fertilizer Dispute with Chinese Delegation
February 09, Colombo (LNW): Agriculture and Plantation Industries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has taken proactive steps to address the lingering issues surrounding the 2021 organic fertilizer transaction. Minister Amaraweera plans to engage in discussions with a delegation, including Chinese Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Ma Youxiang, who is set to arrive in Colombo for the 37th Asia Pacific Conference (APRC) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization scheduled from February 19 to 22.
The aim of these discussions is to find an amicable solution to the problems that emerged during the implementation of a court settlement involving the Chinese Organic Fertilizer Company and two state fertilizer companies. Minister Amaraweera is keen on resolving these issues in a manner that preserves the friendly relations between Sri Lanka and China, while also benefiting local farmers.
To facilitate this diplomatic effort, the Minister has instructed the Secretary to invite officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Minister Ali Sabry to participate in the discussions. Additionally, Minister Amaraweera and other officials are expected to engage with the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the Chinese Government during their visit.
The organic fertilizer procurement initiated by the Agriculture Ministry in 2021 became a contentious matter, leading to a compensation payment of USD 6.9 million by the Sri Lankan government. This payment was made following allegations of damaging the reputation of the Chinese company supplying the organic fertilizers. Despite attempts to secure alternative fertilizers and agricultural equipment to meet the compensation amount, challenges arose due to the specific nature of the organic fertilizer in question.
In response to the complexities of the situation, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to involve the Foreign Affairs Minister in facilitating discussions with all relevant parties. The ultimate goal is to reach an amicable agreement between China and Sri Lanka, with the hope that comprehensive proposals will be submitted to the Cabinet to resolve this ongoing issue.