The ship ‘Hippo Spirit’ is only the first shipment of the Chinese organic fertilizer sent by Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group, it is learnt.
This has been revealed by General Manager and Chief Technology Officer of the company – Anna Song, during an interview with ‘Daily Mirror’.
“Accordingly on Oct.26, Qingdao Seawin signed a contract with the Sri Lankan buyers to supply 99,000 metric tonnes of our organic fertiliser, which will be broken up into four shipments,” Song said.
At the present, ‘Hippo Spirit’ with 20,000 MT of fertilizer onboard, remains docked in the outskirts of the Colombo Port.
Complaint to FAO
Ms. Song has also said that if the company’s name is not cleared from such baseless allegations against their products, they will be compelled to lodge a complaint with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, to which Sri Lanka is also a member.
Noting that organic fertiliser manufactured by the Qingdao Seawin group was supplied to over 56 countries including the USA, UK, Australia and Italy and the local buyer – Ceylon Fertiliser Company and Colombo Commercial Fertilisers – had signed a contract with Qingdao Seawin on October 26, after it had won the tender called out by the Agriculture Ministry.
Bacteria exists… but not Erwinia
However, in early September the Sri Lankan buyer sent an email to Qingdao Seawin saying their fertiliser had been rejected as it contained harmful bacteria. “We then had a Zoom meeting with them and explained to them what the nature of organic fertiliser is. And that it contains bacteria but not the harmful kind. Actually, the Chinese government encourages farmers and manufacturers to use beneficial bacteria which is very good for the soil and crops as it improves the structure of the soil and releases nitrogen to the soil which is very good,” Song had said.
Following this meeting, the Chinese company had sent a reply by email as well explaining this after which Sri Lanka confirmed they had opened an LC.
She had also said that even if harmful bacteria such as Erwina do exist as alleged by the National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS), they would die as all their products are sterilized.
Agreement or no agreement?
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Director General of Agriculture Dr. Ajantha Silva has stressed that Sri Lanka has not agreed to re-test the twice rejected Chinese Organic Fertilizer, by a third party.
On Sunday (15), the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong during his visit to Kandy said that the Chinese Fertilizer Company and Sri Lankan authorities have come to an agreement to re-test the stock of fertilizer through a third party.
Speaking further, the Ambassador stated that the issue is merely a commercial dispute, however some parties are attempting to politicize it.
However, Dr. Ajantha de Silva dismissed this comment noting that there is no provision to re-test rejected fertilizer, as per the National Plant Quarantine Act.
Dr. De Silva emphasized that the Hippo Spirit, carrying rejected Chinese Organic Fertilizer, currently anchored in Sri Lankan waters, will not be allowed to enter into the country.
(Excerpts from the Dailymirror interview)