In his statement, the MP states that (1) Sri Lanka imported 574,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser in 2020, and (2) Sri Lanka, using 284kg per hectare, has the highest chemical fertiliser consumption in South Asia.
To check the first claim, FactCheck.lk consulted the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL) 2020 Annual Report and checked for any alternative data sources with the National Fertiliser Secretariat. The Central Bank provisionally estimates that Sri Lanka imported 952,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser in 2020 (see Exhibit 1). This figure on imports is significantly higher than the MP’s claim of 574,000 metric tonnes.
To check the second claim, FactCheck.lk referred to chemical fertiliser consumption data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Bank (WB). The FAO defines fertiliser consumption as “the quantity of plant nutrients used per unit of arable land”. In which, “fertiliser products cover nitrogenous, potash, and phosphate fertilisers (including ground rock phosphate)”, and arable land as “land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted once), temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land under market or kitchen gardens, and land temporarily fallow. Land abandoned as a result of shifting cultivation is excluded”.
The most updated data on fertiliser consumption that the FAO has is from 2018. In 2016, 2017, and 2018, Sri Lanka’s chemical fertiliser consumption reported in the statistics is less than half the 284kg per hectare level claimed by the MP. Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are all reported as consuming a higher level of chemical fertiliser than Sri Lanka (see Exhibit 2). This makes Sri Lanka the fourth highest, and not the highest consumer of chemical fertiliser in South Asia.
The MP’s claim has three significant errors. It underestimates fertiliser imports and overstates the amount and the South Asia ranking of Sri Lanka’s chemical fertiliser consumption. Therefore, we classify his statement as FALSE.
*FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment.
Official website of the World Bank, ‘Fertilizer Consumption (Kilograms Per Hectare Of Arable Land)’, available at: https://datacatalog.worldbank.org/search?search_api_views_fulltext_op=AND&query=AG.CON.FERT.ZS&sort_by=search_api_relevance&sort_by=search_api_relevance [last accessed: 9 June 2021]
Official website of the World Bank, ‘Data bank | World Development Indicators’, available at: https://databank.worldbank.org/reports.aspx?source=2&series=AG.CON.FERT.ZS[last accessed: 9 June 2021]
Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Reports (2020), available at: https://www.cbsl.gov.lk/en/publications/economic-and-financial-reports/annual-reports [last accessed: 9 June 2021]