NO test conducted for plant based pathogens in Chinese samples

NO test conducted for plant based pathogens in Chinese samples

Written by Staff Writer

19 Sep, 2021 | 12:27 am

COLOMBO (News 1st): Sri Lanka’s Minister of Agriculture confirmed that a microorganism identified as ‘Erwinia’ was discovered in samples brought down ‘unofficially’ to Sri Lanka and tested.

This supplier was revealed as Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd.

“This supplier is the single largest organic fertilizer manufacturer and is based in China,” he said on Friday (17).

According to experts pathogenic microorganisms that are harmful to animals, plants, and humans can destroy many cultivation in Sri Lanka.

Incidentally, Professor Nalika Ranatunga attached to the Department of Agricultural Biology at the University of Ruhuna said no test was conducted for plant based pathogens in the samples sent to Sri Lanka.

In addition to bacteria, viruses, various pathogens and other organisms can also be present and there is no evidence to claim that the sample is free from all of that, she said.

“This sample was sent without any testing for any plant pathogens. We can not get any confirmation from this about their impact on the agricultural sector. Only two types of bacteria that cause human disease have been tested. Then viruses can come in addition to these bacteria. Various pathogens can come from other organisms,” she warned.

The Chinese company is preparing to supply Sri Lanka with organic fertilizer made from seaweed.

Prof. Nalika Ranatunga points out that there is a suspicion that this fertilizer sample may also contain non-organic matter.

“Now we’re going to import granular fertilizer cubes that have been tested and found to contain seaweed extract, or 10% seaweed extract. But when you look at the total nitrogen, it’s more than 15% – 16% of the total total nitrogen. Then there is a big suspicion that inorganic substances like urea have been added to this. There is a question as to whether any other source of nitrogen, such as municipal waste, is included,” she added.

Meanwhile, experts in the field emphasize that according to the law of the land, the material containing such bacteria can not even be imported as samples.

Professor Saman Dharmakeerthi of the Department of Soil Science, University of Peradeniya said a sample can ONLY enter a country if it is accompanied with the necessary certification.

“Failure to produce the certification means that it is illegal to allow the samples to enter Sri Lanka,” he said.

The professor further said that it is dangerous to import samples that are not certified by the National Plant Quarantine Service and put them in field laboratories.

It was revealed at a media briefing by the Minister of Agriculture on Friday (17) that a sample of organic fertilizer imported from China has been sent to the Batalegoda Rice Research and Development Institute (RRDI).

Prof. Nalika Ranatunga said that the samples were sent to the Bathalagoda Rice Research and Development Institute (RRDI) for field tests to determine the quality of the fertilizers, and not to test for pathogens or the presence of pests that could harm agriculture.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday, the tender to import organic fertilizer to Sri Lanka has been awarded to a Chinese company called Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd.

They operate a large factory in the port city of Qingdao, China.

Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. says that with over 20 years of experience, it has become a leader in the production of marine biofertilizers using wild plants.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported in June that harmful algae had spread about 1,700 square kilometers around the Chinese port city of Qingdao.

The report said that the area has been plagued by algae for about 15 years and that many people have been affected by the stench.

According to foreign media, about 12,000 boats were deployed to remove the plants.

The amount of algae removed in June alone was 450,000 tons.

In this context, shouldn’t the decision to use organic fertilizers, especially those imported from China, be taken very carefully?

Dr. Parakrama Vaidyanatha, former Chairman of the Coconut Research Institute on 01.07.2021 said only 17 countries in the world use more than 10% organic fertilizer.

“They started using organic fertilizers in the 1960s and 70s. This was not something that could be done all of a sudden,” he added.

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