The Sunday Leader

Glyphosate ban lifted for tea and rubber, planters hail move

The ban imposed on the herbicide Glyphosate has been lifted for tea and rubber with effect from today.

Meanwhile, the Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) issued a statement commending the Government decision to lift the arbitrary ban on the importation of glyphosate-based weedicides in view of the overwhelming scientific consensus that the substance is not harmful to human health.

“At the outset we wish to express our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the Minister of Plantation Industries, Navin Dissanayake for the pivotal role he played amidst a great deal of opposition, in order to preserve and protect an industry that continues to serve as the lifeblood of our nation.

“This onerous ban is already estimated to have  caused crop losses up Rs. 15 billion in 2016, and upto Rs. 20 billion in 2017 but at least now we can begin the difficult but necessary work to reverse the serious damage done to our estates as a result of the ban. In that regard, we are encouraged that even at this late stage, that policy makers were willing to listen to reason, and take into account the overwhelming and indisputable scientific evidence that this substance is not harmful to human health, and is moreover a vital component in the sustainable management of Sri Lanka’s plantations sector,” Chairman of Planters’ Association, Sunil Poholiyadde stated.

The Planter’s Association had been a vocal critic of the sudden and unexpected decision to ban glyphosate in 2015 – when Sri Lanka gained the dubious honour of being the first and only nation to do so on the basis of anecdotal and not scientific evidence. The PA had consistently requested the regulator and the TRI to explain the rationale behind its decision, and provide a recommendation for a suitable alternative that would be feasible to use and acceptable in relation to the minimum residue limits imposed at export destinations for Sri Lankan tea.

Secretary General, Planters’ Association Lalith Obeyesekere commended Hon Minister, Navin Dissanayake and all key policy makers involved in the decision to reverse the ban, the announcement of which followed a similar prior decision from the National Economic Council in March 2018 to raise the ban. In particular, Obeyesekere acknowledged the vital contributions other officials including former Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman, Rohan Pethiyagoda and current Chairman, Lucille Wijewardena, in reversing the ban.

Moving forward, the PA called upon the Government to honour the spirit of good governance and enter into consultation with all industry stakeholders in order to make major policy decisions of this nature in a systematic, as opposed to an ad-hoc manner.

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