The Chinese fertiliser company, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co. has agreed to send new organic fertiliser to Sri Lanka and recall the controversial shipment on ship Hippo Spirit.
Sri Lankan Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told media persons on Wednesday that the country has an issue with the particular shipment sent by Qingdao. He said: "They have not obtained the license to bring this shipment. So, we have clearly told them to follow the procedure. There is an international tender. We have given them the specification and they have to follow the specifications,”
Sri Lankan website News First quoted the minister as saying that Sri Lanka does not have an issue with the Chinese Government or the fertiliser company. "Our only issue is with the particular shipment. There are pathogens in this shipment and we are not in a position to accept it”, Aluthgamage elaborated.
For the last two months, the two nations were embroiled in a dispute over organic Chinese fertilizer which Sri Lanka found contaminated with microorganisms, pathogens and diseases harmful to the soil and also plants. Sri Lankan scientists concluded after testing two samples of Qingdao fertiliser that its use would lead to severe post-harvest losses in economically important crops.
The Sri Lankan agriculture ministry also found a microorganism ‘Erwinia’ which is considered to be dangerous for crops.
Clarification on the organic fertilizer to be supplied by 🇨🇳Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group to #SriLanka :
1⃣ It was selected by 🇱🇰 Ministry of Agriculture through open tender
2⃣ Its products passed organic certifications of EU ECOCERT, OMRI, REACH, & Australian Organic Input etc
— Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka (@ChinaEmbSL) October 8, 2021
After Sri Lanka rejected the fertiliser, the Chinese embassy in Colombo joined the fray. It blacklisted the State-run People’s Bank of Sri Lanka and also defended the Qingdao company by regularly posting information on micro-blogging platform Twitter.
The Chinese company also mounted pressure by sending the fertiliser ship Hippo spirit to Sri Lankan waters and keeping it anchored close to the Colombo Port.
Separately, the Chinese company also took legal action by asking the Sri Lankan government to pay compensation of $8 million for the loss of prestige and goodwill due to the controversy.
With farmers also demanding organic fertiliser, Colombo turned to India for the import of nano nitrogen fertiliser. India also sent a team of experts to talk with Sri Lankan scientists and also demonstrate the usage of the Indian organic fertiliser to farmers.
The fertiliser controversy damaged relations between China and Sri Lanka which are built on a solid economic foundation. Beijing has invested considerably amounts in Sri Lanka for infrastructure development.
By resorting to a middle path–importing new fertiliser from Qingdao, and the Chinese company recalling its tainted fertiliser ship, the two countries have taken steps to put a stop to commercial wrangling which was beginning to impact their diplomatic relations.