Sri Lanka tea, rubber farms still without agro-chemicals


Sri Lanka’s tea and rubber growing companies are still stuck for agro-chemicals despite an official end to an import ban while fertilizer prices have rocketed, a grouping from plantations managers said.

“While we appreciate the government’s eventual decision to allow our industry to acquire fertiliser,plant nutrition is only one of the several key requirements of the plantation industry,” Roshan Rajadurai, spokesman for the Planters’ Association said.

“Additional inputs are also required to mitigate issues such as diseases, pests and weeds. These are essential for plantations to produce economically feasible volumes and given that our crops are nearly entirely exported, we must also adhere to stringent quality and Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) parameters,” he noted.

The PA said fertilizer used for tea cultivation used to cots about 1,500 a kilogram, but has risen to 6,600 rupees after the subsidy was lifted.

“Unfortunately, given factors such as the global increase in commodity prices, fertiliser prices are expected to increase further,” the statement said.

Sri Lanka has banned and reversed a ban on glyphosate several times, claiming the chemical was linked to a kidney disease of unknown origins.

The statement also noted:

“In the recent past the country has seen several major changes in its policy with regard to importing and usage of agri inputs.

As of November 2021, glyphosate was removed from the list of controlled substances, only for the ban to be reinstated by the end of the month.

Even prior to the overall ban of fertilizer and agrochemical imports, the country has vacillated repeatedly in its stance on certain key inputs used by the plantation sector.”

Glyphosate was removed from the list of controlled substances on November 2021 and again banned the next month.

Glyphosate, is a herbicide which was introduced to Sri Lanka in the late 1970s and was recommended for use by the Tea Research Institute (TRI)

It was first banned in late 2014 over unproven allegations as to its contribution to higher instances of chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) prevalent in Sri Lanka’s dry zone. Kidney disease not prevalent in tea-growing areas.

Originally anti-glyphosate university dons have said God Natha revealed had that was a link between glyphosate and nephrotoxic heavy metals.

Sri Lanka banned fertilizer recently after a government doctors association said that according to Pliny the Elder, a Roman author, ancient Sri Lankans had lived for 140 years, before agro-chemicals came into wide use.

Rubber farms have also been hit by a fungus.