Sri Lanka to lift ban on Glyphosate after 07 years

The gazette notification pertaining to the lifting of the ban imposed on the import of the herbicide Glyphosate has been sent to the Government Printer, says the Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Gunadasa Samarasinghe.

The Minister of Agriculture had decided to lift the ban on Glyphosate following inquiries made from various sectors including the representatives from farmers, agricultural experts, and agronomists as to whether the ban should be continued further or not, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Further continuation of the Glyphosate ban had become futile as some people had illegally imported substanded Glyphosate via sea routes and were sold across the country at exorbitant prices, the Ministry said.

Accordingly, steps were taken to lift the Glyphosate ban that had been in place for 07 years since 2015, since there was no alternative method for weed control in the agricultural sector, that situation also led to a decrease in harvests, the secretary of the Ministry emphasized.

 He said the gazette has been signed by the Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera and sent to the Government Printer to be published. 

In September, the Cabinet of Ministers had approved a proposal to import Glyphosate for a period of 06 months for all agricultural activities during the 2022/23 Maha Season.

The government had said the decision to ban/restrict the importation of Glyphosate has affected all types of agricultural activities, leading to a decrease in agricultural production and a surge in prices of essential food items.

Taking into this account, permission is granted to import Glyphosate for a period of six months to allow farmers to carry out their agricultural activities more productively during 2022/23 Maha Season.

The relevant proposal had been tabled by President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Former President Maithripala Sirisena, in 2015, banned the importation of Glyphosate as some studies had linked the use of the agrochemical to the chronic kidney disease affecting Sri Lankan farmers. The imports and use of the herbicide was accordingly prohibited under the Import and Export (Control) Act, No. 01 of 1969.

The ban was imposed without introducing any alternative for the purpose of weed control.

However, in 2018, the import ban was temporarily lifted for tea and rubber sectors for a period of 36 months, and the move was subsequently green-lighted by the then-Cabinet of Ministers.

In November 2021, an Extraordinary Gazette was published by then-Registrar of Pesticides Dr. J. A. Sumith, revoking the gazette notification issued in 2014 prohibiting the use and sale of five agrochemicals including Glyphosate. Mr. Sumith was later removed from the post pending a disciplinary inquiry into the rescinding of the said gazette notification and it was announced that the ban on five agrochemicals was still in effect.

The following month, the then-government decided to allow the imports of organic and inorganic compounds, and phosphorous derivatives of fertilizers, however, the ban on importing Glyphosate remained effective.

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