Written by Zulfick Farzan
27 Oct, 2021 | 7:09 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st); Sri Lanka’s Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage on Wednesday (27) stressed that Chinese Organic Fertilizer, already en-route to Sri Lanka, will NOT be re-tested under any circumstance.
However, the minister said a fresh batch of organic fertilizer samples prepared to meet Sri Lanka’s standards will be directed for tests at a third-party laboratory, that can be accepted by both sides.
On two previous occasions, Sri Lanka’s National Plant Quarantine Service confirmed the presence of the harmful pathogens in the Organic Fertilizer samples sent to Sri Lanka by Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd.
However, on the 23rd of September 2021, the HIPPO SPIRIT (Bulk Carrier) started sailing from Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. to Sri Lanka with 20,000 Metric Tonnes of organic fertilizer, which was already rejected by Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s Agriculture Ministry not only rejected the Chinese Fertilizer, but also went to the extent of issuing an order to deny entry to the ship carrying the consignment from entering Sri Lankan ports.
Interestingly, the ship carrying Chinese organic fertiliser to Sri Lanka has reportedly changed its name from ‘Hippo Spirit’ to ‘Seiyo Explorer’ and is sailing close to Sri Lanka’s Great Basses Reef & Little Basses Reef Lighthouse.
On Wednesday (27), Sri Lanka’s Agriculture Ministry stressed that the ship carrying rejected Chinese Organic Fertilizer will NOT be accepted and samples from the ship will NOT be tested against.
“We will NOT make any payment for this shipment,” he said adding that as per the tender agreement, if the supplier takes back the shipment and sent a fresh batch of organic fertilizer to meet Sri Lanka’s specifications, that shipment will be accepted and payment will be made.
However, on Tuesday (27), Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. the supplier of Organic Fertilizer to Sri Lanka requested both parties to entrust the world’s most authoritative and the No.1 third-party testing organization (Swiss SGS group) to re-sampling as soon as possible to test whether the samples are contaminated by Erwinia.
Both parties should unconditionally accept the test results and fulfill their responsibilities accordingly, it added.
Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. went on to note that if Erwinia contamination is confirmed, the supplier shall unconditionally transport the goods back to China, and, If there is no Erwinia contamination, the buyer shall unconditionally accept the goods and arrange payment.
Against this backdrop, the Ceylon Fertilizer Company Limited obtained an Enjoining Order against the Chinese company, Qingdao Seawin Biotech, its local agent and the People’s Bank.
The order has prevented the People’s Bank from making any payment under a Letter of Credit opened in favour of the Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Company Ltd.
Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said the shipment in question is valued at USD 8 Million and an L/C (Letter of Credit) was opened for 75% of the value with a deposit of USD 5 Million.
“Irrespective of these figures, we CANNOT be allowed harmful fertilizer to enter the country,” he added noting that Sri Lanka has no issue with the Chinese company filing action with an arbitration court, as the shipment by Qingdao Seawin Biotech does not meet Sri Lanka’s specifications.
Commenting on the recent meeting with the Chinese Ambassador, the Minister said Sri Lankan officials were not summoned by the diplomat and it was simply a meeting to solve the matter cordially without creating any issues.
“China has helped us when needed, and we have a responsibility to explain to them our position,” he added noting that Qingdao Seawin Biotech cannot threaten to blacklist a Sri Lankan Bank, though they are facing a serious credibility issue.
However, there are concerns as to why Sri Lanka agreed to re-test the rejected Chinese Organic Fertilizer by directing samples to an institution that can be accepted by both Sri Lanka and China.
State Minister Shasheendra Rajapaksa made the comment exclusively to News 1st on Tuesday (26) and on Wednesday (27) said the samples aboard this ship will not be tested as the shipment has already been rejected.
“The Chinese company can send any letter and we have no issue with that,” he added.
Sri Lanka’s National Plant Quarantine Service has also expressed dismay over the decision taken re-test rejected Chinese Organic Fertilizer at an international laboratory, at a time when the National Plant Quarantine Service has carried out proper tests on the samples.
The National Plant Quarantine Service said such decisions place Sri Lanka in an embarrassing situation, in the presence of the international community.
“This could directly impact Sri Lanka’s exports,” it warned.
According to a weekend newspaper, Chelina Capital Corporation (Pvt) Ltd serves as the local agent for Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Company Ltd.
It reported that according to a letter addressed to the Director-General of Agriculture on the 22nd of October 2021, an individual named Lolitha Abeysinghe acts as the Managing Director of Chelina Capital Corporation (Pvt) Ltd.
Inquiries into Abeysinghe’s relations have revealed influential political and other connections.
On the 17th of September Sri Lanka’s Minister of Agriculture confirmed for the first time that a microorganism identified as ‘Erwinia’ was discovered in samples brought down to Sri Lanka from Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd.
On September 29th, Sri Lanka’s Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage announced the suspension of organic fertilizer imports from China.
This was after Director-General of Agriculture Dr. Ajantha De Silva on 28th September confirmed that Harmful Bacteria was detected in a fresh sample (2nd batch) of Chinese Organic Fertilizer.
However, on the 10th of October 2021, the Chinese Embassy said the comments noting that Erwinia was found in the samples from Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. has no scientific basis.
Yet, the Ceylon Fertilizer Company Limited had got a court order to block payment to Qingdao Seawin Biotech over the shipment of organic fertilizer which was contaminated.
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