China’s unresolved responsibility over Sri Lanka’s contaminated organic fertilizer

3 Min
China’s unresolved responsibility over Sri Lanka’s contaminated organic fertilizer

China’s role as a global economic powerhouse has come under scrutiny once again, this time in connection with a controversial incident involving Sri Lanka’s contaminated organic fertilizer. Despite international calls and growing evidence indicating the substandard quality of the exported fertilizer, China has shown reluctance to take responsibility and return the $6.3 million it obtained through arm-twisting tactics. This article aims to shed light on the issue, exploring the reasons behind China’s hesitation and the potential consequences of neglecting its obligations.

A Troubling Situation

In recent years, Sri Lanka has been striving to enhance its agricultural productivity through organic farming practices. The country’s reliance on imported fertilizer has presented an opportunity for China to strengthen its economic ties while aiding Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector. However, this partnership has turned sour due to allegations of substandard fertilizers.

While organic farming practices in Sri Lanka have shown potential for improving agricultural productivity, there have also been challenges leading to poor yields in recent years. One major issue is the lack of access to quality organic inputs, such as organic fertilizers and pesticides. Many farmers face difficulties in obtaining organic inputs on a regular basis, which hampers the effectiveness of their organic farming practices. Additionally, the transition from conventional to organic farming methods can be a time-consuming and challenging process.

Farmers often face difficulties in implementing and adapting to new organic farming techniques, such as crop rotation and integrated pest management. The lack of proper knowledge and training, as well as limited access to technical support, further contribute to poor agricultural productivity. Moreover, organic farming practices are often more labour-intensive compared to conventional farming. The manual labor required for tasks like weeding and pest control can be a burden for farmers, especially for those with limited resources and small-scale operations.

The Controversial Exportation

China’s involvement in the export of contaminated organic fertilizer to Sri Lanka first came to light when farmers began to experience severe crop damage and reported uncharacteristic health concerns. Subsequently, investigations revealed that the fertilizer contained harmful substances, rendering it unfit for use in agricultural practices.

The Arm-Twisting Tactics

Following these revelations, Sri Lanka demanded the return of the $6.3 million it had paid to China for the contaminated fertilizer. However, China has employed arm-twisting tactics, refusing to comply with Sri Lanka’s requests. This raises alarming questions about China’s commitment to ethical trade practices and the integrity of its role as an economic partner.

Reasons Behind China’s Reluctance

One possible explanation for China’s refusal to take responsibility is rooted in the quest for economic dominance. Returning the $6.3 million may be seen as a sign of weakness, potentially leading to similar demands from other countries in the future. China’s unwillingness to concede suggests a prioritization of economic gain over bilateral trust and cooperation.

Another factor influencing China’s stance may be its strategic interests in Sri Lanka. With its Belt and Road Initiative, China has heavily invested in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure development. By maintaining a firm position on the fertilizer issue, China may be exerting its influence and putting pressure on Sri Lanka to prioritize broader economic ties over the immediate consequences of the contaminated fertilizer.

Consequences of Neglecting Responsibility

China’s reluctance to address this issue responsibly can have severe consequences on several fronts. Firstly, it undermines the integrity of international trade and sets a dangerous precedent for future dealings. If economic giants like China are allowed to dismiss claims of substandard products, smaller nations may find themselves powerless against such exploitation.

Moreover, neglecting responsibility may tarnish China’s global reputation and weaken confidence in its economic partnerships. Countries that have been considering trade agreements or investments with China may now hesitate, concerned about the potential repercussions of doing business with a nation that prioritizes economic gain over ethical practices.

For Sri Lanka, the consequences extend beyond economics. The agricultural sector, already struggling with productivity challenges, has suffered greatly due to the contaminated fertilizer. The health of farmers and consumers has been put at risk, and the environment has been subjected to pollution. China’s refusal to acknowledge its role in this crisis exacerbates these issues, leaving Sri Lanka feeling betrayed and deepening resentment towards its economic partner.

In conclusion, China’s refusal to return the $6.3 million it obtained through the arm-twisting incident involving Sri Lanka’s contaminated organic fertilizer is indicative of larger issues surrounding its economic strategies. By prioritizing economic gain over ethical considerations and neglecting its responsibilities, China risks damaging its global reputation and eroding trust among its trading partners.

The consequences of this incident extend beyond financial losses. The livelihoods of Sri Lankan farmers, the health of consumers, and the environment have all been severely impacted by the substandard fertilizer. It is imperative for China to acknowledge its role, accept responsibility, and take appropriate action to rectify the situation. Failure to do so not only undermines international trade but also reinforces concerns about China’s commitment to ethical practices and fairness in global economic relations.

From Daily Mirror, Colombo, July 17, 2023