Sri Lanka’s promises more props for agriculture

Nov 07, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s domestic agriculture and processing industry was promised sweeping relief by the government including tax waivers and loan write-offs and more cash for subsidized fertilizer, in the 2008 budget. The politically important rice farmers would continue to get any type of fertilizer at 350 rupees per bag while urea fertilizer would be given for 1,200 rupees a bag for land owners owning less than five acres.

The allocation for the fertilizer subsidy has been increased from 10 billion rupees to 15 billion.

This was more than the poorest of the country were getting under the Samurdhi income support scheme. The cash grant scheme got 10.85 billion rupees for 2008 up from 9.6 billion.

But the President Mahinda Rajapakse who is also finance minister took a swipe at chemical fertilizer saying it damaged the environment and health, and said 500 million rupees had been allocated to promote organic fertilizer.

“Since chemical fertilizer is harmful to the environment and health, it is proposed to encourage the use of organic fertilizer and Rs. 500 million has been allocated to promote organic fertilizer production,” he told parliament.

The fertilizer subsidy is one of the cornerstones of t