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Imported liquid Nano-Nitrogen fertiliser not organic, says a group of academics

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The liquid Nano-Nitrogen fertiliser from Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd. (IFFCO) imported by the government is a synthetic chemical fertiliser, and not an organic fertiliser, academics attached to the Agriculture and Technology Faculties of State Universities said yesterday.

They issued a statement under the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) letterhead:

“The Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer of IFFCO is a urea-based formulation where urea is coated with polymers to make nano-size particles. Therefore, this fertilizer is a synthetic chemical fertiliser, and not an organic fertilizer. The Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer is recommended to apply as a foliar spray and said to contain 4% Nitrogen. This is rather a new product, which has very recently (2021 March) received approval for large scale production from the Ministry of Agriculture of India. Anyhow, nano-fertilisers are not accepted in organic agriculture in Sri Lanka as indicated in the standard of requirements for organic agriculture (SLS1324:2018),” the statement said.

FUTA added that the Ministry of Agriculture claims that three applications of 2.5 L of this fertilizer at a time (i.e. 7.5 L in total) is adequate to provide required nutrients for the cultivation of one hectare of paddy crop. When applied at this rate, Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer would provide only 300 g of Nitrogen per one hectare.

“However, in general, nearly 105 kg of nitrogen is taken up by the paddy crop yielding 4-5 tons of grains per hectare. Accordingly, Nano-Nitrogen fertiliser should be applied at a rate of 1,250 L per hectare if it is the only source of nitrogen added to the crop, which is an impossible task to be realized within a cropping season,” the academics said.

Given below is the statement in full: “The government of Sri Lanka recently imported liquid Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer from Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Ltd. (IFFCO). From an initial order of 3.1 million liters, 45,000 liters (90,000 bottles, each carrying 500 ml) were airlifted on 19th October 2021 to Sri Lanka. We have learned that there are many misconceptions being publicized in the mass media on this Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer. As a concerned group of agricultural professionals in the country, academics attached to the Agriculture and Technology Faculties of State Universities in Sri Lanka, we wish to provide correct scientific facts about the imported fertilizer and express our views on this matter as follows.

“The Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer of IFFCO is a urea-based formulation where urea is coated with polymers to make nano-size particles. Therefore, this fertilizer is a synthetic chemical fertilizer, and not an organic fertilizer. The Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer is recommended to apply as a foliar spray and said to contain 4% Nitrogen. This is rather a new product, which has very recently (2021 March) received approval for large scale production from the Ministry of Agriculture of India. Anyhow, nano-fertilizers are not accepted in organic agriculture in Sri Lanka as indicated in the standard of requirements for organic agriculture (SLS1324:2018).

“In media briefings conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, we learned that three applications of 2.5 L of this fertilizer at a time (i.e. 7.5 L in total) is adequate to provide required nutrients for the cultivation of one hectare of paddy crop. When applied at this rate, Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer would provide only 300 g of Nitrogen per one hectare. In general, nearly 105 kg of nitrogen is taken up by the paddy crop yielding 4-5 tons of grains per hectare. Accordingly, Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer should be applied at a rate of 1,250 L per hectare if it is the only source of nitrogen added to the crop, which is an impossible task to be realized within a cropping season.

“In their official website, IFFCO has indicated that this Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer should be applied only as a top dressing along with a reduced rate of urea, while phosphorus and potassium sources are to be supplied at full rate as per the recommendations. All research reports on this liquid fertilizer have recommended using this fertilizer to fulfil only partial requirements of Nitrogen for crops and often used with 50% recommended dose of urea. Therefore, Nano-Nitrogen is more appropriate to be viewed as a supplementary source of Nitrogen than a major nutrient source.

“Spraying liquid fertilizer may not be practical for some crops unless the farmers have access to drone technology. This is because spraying large areas and taller crops such as maize and sugarcane is not practical with commonly used spray tanks. Moreover, the effectiveness of these foliar fertilizers depends on the ground-cover by leaf area, weather conditions and application technology. Therefore, it is a necessity to provide clear guidance to the farmers on correct application procedures.

“In this context there is a serious question as to what should be recommended to the farmers in Sri Lanka, as the sources of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium nutrients are limited in the market with the recent ban imposed on importing synthetic ‘chemical’ fertilizer. It is important to note that the benefit of Nano-Nitrogen cannot be realized when the crop suffers from nutrient imbalances. The Nano-fertilizer is applied at a much lower rate than regular urea fertilizer application mainly because it is a foliar spray. Applying the Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer at high concentrations, in the absence of soil application of Nitrogen fertilizer such as urea, could damage leaves. Therefore, the available option would be to have repeated application of Nano-Nitrogen fertilizer at a lower dosage.

“It should be noted that nano-fertilizers are more expensive than regular nitrogen fertilizers. Thus, considering the cost of the fertilizer and labor cost for application, the use of foliar fertilizers in a crop like paddy is expensive and will increase the cost of production.

“Any fertilizer imported to the country needs to be tested following the accepted protocols prior to giving approval for importation and after the shipment has arrived in order to assure quality and to avoid any negative impacts. Sri Lanka does not have developed SLS standards for nano-fertilizers, yet. These standards should be developed to assure quality of the product free of biurate-like toxic substances. Besides, recommendations should not be made in an ad-hoc manner without conducting any field investigations.

“Furthermore, in the eco-friendly/green agriculture concept, much attention is given to improve and regenerate soil fertility. However, foliar application of fertilizers will not contribute to enhancing soil fertility. Therefore, while failing to achieve higher crop yields, it is highly unlikely that the expensive Nano-Fertilizer we have imported will help in realizing the objectives of green-agriculture.”



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Canadian declaration of ‘Tamil genocide’ may influence European parliaments, EU – Maj. Gen. (retd.) Gallage

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‘Counter lies, or face consequences’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage says controversial Canadian House of Commons declaration that Tamil genocide took place in Sri Lanka may influence many Western parliaments as well as the EU.

The Gajaba Regiment war veteran said that the recognition of 18th May, the day Sri Lanka defeated terrorism as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day was an affront to Sri Lanka.

The ex-combat officer said that the government owed an explanation without delay. Perhaps, Sri Lanka parliament should remind Canada of deaths of hundreds of native residential school students, who had been literally snatched from their families, the retired officer said, adding that it would be interesting to see whether any political parties, civil society groups or those who issue statements against Sri Lanka at the drop of a hat would question the Canada’s gruesome past. So far unmarked graves of more than 1000 native children have been found on the grounds of such schools run till the mid-1990s, the retired Major General said.

Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree, son of veteran Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader V. Anandasangaree presented the motion on Wednesday (18). “Canada becomes the first national parliament in the world to recognize May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day,” tweeted, Anandasangree, the MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park.

The motion states that “this House acknowledges the Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and recognizes May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day”.

The House of Commons unanimously accepted the motion.

Gallage alleged that Sri Lanka lacked political will to counter the campaign against the country. Acknowledging the current political-fiscal -social crisis caused by decades of economic mismanagement, he warned that the Canadian declaration would have disastrous consequences. Would the government care to examine how interested parties could exploit the Canadian condemnation of Sri Lanka? Gallage asked.

Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in the third week of May 2009.

Gallage questioned the responsibility on the part of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries for Sri Lanka’s failure to meet the challenge.

Anandasangaree brought forward the motion on the 13th anniversary of the annihilation of the LTTE fighting cadre at Mullivaikkal.

Retired Maj. Gen. said that those who had failed to throw a lifeline to the LTTE as the military brought the war to a rapid conclusion worked overtime for the realization of the Canadian project.

Responding to another query, Gallage said that declaration of May 18 as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day should be examined against the backdrop of Sri Lanka co-sponsoring an accountability resolution against itself at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in early Oct. 2015 under the yahapalana regime.

Gallage recalled how Australia denied him a visa during yahapalana administration though there hadn’t been specific war crimes allegations against him. Australia also found fault with Gallage for being in command of the 59 Division from May 7, 2009 to July 20, 2009.

Established in Jan, 2008, the 59 Division, deployed on the eastern flank aka the Weli Oya front, fought under the then Brig. Nandana Udawatte’s command for one year to cross the Anandakulam and Nagacholai forest reserves, which served as natural defences for the LTTE Mullaitivu stronghold.

Maj. Gen. Gallage said that the Parliament should respond to the Canadian House of Commons declaration on Tamil genocide. The former senior officer who was always in the thick of combat reiterated that unless tangible action was taken immediately the Canadian motion would cause irreparable damage. The Tamil Diaspora would exploit their success with Canadian political parties to pressure other countries, Gallage said, the coming Geneva sessions would be quite a challenge.

He urged the current military top brass to make representations to the government as regards the damning unfair Canadian indictment of Sri Lanka. “We should ask Canada to share with us information on the basis its Parliament reached conclusion that genocide took place here. The very basis of their declaration is questionable,” Gallage said, adding that Sri Lanka should officially inform Canada of the Indian intervention that led to the deaths of thousands, both before and after the deployment of the Indian Army (1987-1990), killing of one-time Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by an LTTE female suicide cadre and the sea borne attempt to assassinate the Maldivian President in 1989. “We should set the record straight. We should use wartime British High Commission cables now in the public domain to counter lies,” the Gajaba Regiment veteran said.

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Some MPs seek hotel accommodation to attend parliament

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament yesterday that a group of MPs had requested that they be provided hotel accommodations for them to attend Parliament sittings.

Speaker Abeywardena said that the request had been made due to the prevailing fuel crisis.

The Speaker said that some MPs who travelled from outstations were unable to return home due to the fuel shortage.

“Therefore, they have requested me to book a hotel for them to stay in Colombo to attend Parliament proceedings,” he said.

The Speaker’s clarification came as reports of MPs being provided fuel at a subsidised rate were raised in Parliament yesterday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that fuel had not been given at subsidised rates to any MP.

Many government MPs also lost life possessions as their houses were looted and torched by marauding mobs early last week.

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Elder brother says MR should have known when to quit politics

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SLPP MP and former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that his younger brother former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa should have retired from politics after concluding his second term as President.

“Nearly 50 years of his outstanding political achievements and journey have been lost at present,” he said.

“If we become greedy for power and positions then we face such consequences as we see today,” he said.

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