Pathogen ‘Erwinia’ detected in Chinese organic fertilizer sample

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COLOMBO (New 1st); Sri Lanka’s Minister of Agriculture today confirmed that a microorganism identified as “Erwinia” has been found in samples brought “unofficially” to Sri Lanka and tested.

The minister said the government will not allow the local marketing of organic fertilizers that do not meet the standards prescribed by SLSI. Fertilizers imported into the country cannot contain pathogenic microorganisms harmful to animals, plants and humans, said Mahindananda Aluthgamage.

“The former government imported substandard fertilizers into the country and the lab reports were changed before releasing stocks for the local farmer,” he said. The minister told reporters that for imports of organic nitrogen fertilizers, bids have been put out to tender and a supplier has been selected.

This supplier was revealed as Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. “This supplier is the largest manufacturer of organic fertilizers and is based in China,” he said, adding that the company also supplies fertilizer to the United States.

The minister said that after the company was selected, samples were sent for testing at an independent laboratory appointed by the Sri Lanka Standards Institute.

“The reports claim that there are no pathogenic microorganisms in the samples we sent them,” the minister said.

Unofficial?

However, as this was the first time Sri Lanka had imported organic fertilizers from the supplier, samples were obtained through unofficial channels for testing, the minister said.

“The ministry has serious concerns about the process of importing these samples into the country,” the minister said, noting that the fertilizer samples were sent to Sri Lanka in plastic bags, which would allow anyone to steal the sample.

The minister said the microorganism identified as Erwinia was discovered from these samples and therefore these samples are in no way suitable for cultivation in the country.

He said there were concerns about these samples as they were imported through unofficial channels, however, all fertilizers imported into the country will be subject to testing.

“There is a massive conspiracy to force the government to reverse its decision on organic fertilizers,” the minister said, adding that organic fertilizers imported into the country are made from seaweed.

Sri Lanka will import 20,000 tonnes of organic fertilizer and the supplier has placed a $ 5 million bond, Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said.

However, Minister Aluthgamage said there were serious concerns as to why only the lab report containing so-called negative results was made public, while lab reports from the International Laboratory and the Department of agriculture have not yet been made available to the public.

He said the case will be investigated and the Criminal Investigation Department will be asked to investigate how the report was leaked.

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