By J.T. de Silva and Daya Perera
President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday ordered the Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture to meet him forthwith with all circulars which have been issued pertaining to fertilizer in the country.
The President's order came in a sequel to a complaint submitted to the President at yesterday's Cabinet meeting, by Ministers Dr. Sarath Amunugama and Sajith Premadasa, about farmers in 62 areas in the country being unable to purchase fertilizer stocks.
The Ministers have made special mention of Bandarawela, Welimada, Keppetitipola and places in the Hambantota district as being among the areas worst hit by the fertilizer shortage.
They have also stated that farmers were unable to purchase their fertilizer requirements in accordance with a circular issued by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Acting Minister of Agriculture Wasantha Aluvihare told Ceylon Today that in addition to this, several fertiliser agents are believed to have hidden vital stocks of fertilizer thus compounding the crisis.
The Minister said he had himself not seen the circular until after conclusion of the Cabinet meeting.
Minister Aluvihare said he had told officials to look for the hidden stocks of fertilizer and initiate legal action against any fertilizer agent found guilty of hiding such stocks.
He added that any authorized agent found guilty of this sabotage will have his license cancelled immediately, adding that he had directed the District Secretaries about appropriate measures to be taken against the miscreants.
The President of the Colombo Commercial Fertiliser Company Thusitha Galoluwa said fertilizer agents could have hidden such stocks with the intention of causing an artificial shortage and exploiting that shortage to compel farmers to pay higher prices for their requirements since farmers are finance to buy fertilizer instead of the earlier subsidy.
He said 66.136 metric tons of fertilizer had been issued in the Maha season of 2014-2015 and 67.945 metric tons for the coming Maha season which was up by 1.809 metric tons compared to the previous season.
43.475 metric tons of fertilizer for additional crops have been issued to agents in 2014. This was increased to 48.236 metric tons in 2015 which is an increase of 4.861 metric tons.
Galoluwa said that as there were 70,000 metric tons of fertilizer in stores throughout the country there cannot be any normal fertilizer shortage in the circumstances.