Colombo: After the Sri Lankan government rejected an order of organic fertilizer from a Chinese company on the issue of the presence of harmful bacteria, Beijing is pressuring Colombo to continue with its organic fertilizer project.

The Chinese fertilizer company, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group, involved in a dispute with Sri Lanka has refused to budge and demanded that Sri Lanka respect the spirit of the agreement reached between both parties, reported Daily Mirror.

"According to the supplementary agreement reached between our company and the Sri Lankan side in February 2022, both sides shall continue with the organic fertilizer project," Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Director Song Hai Mei said.

Both sides went to court after Sri Lanka accused the Chinese company of providing poor quality fertilizer.

Sri Lankan scientists warned that China's organic fertilizer would be an agricultural disaster as the samples were found to be infected with Erwinia. This notorious plant pathogen causes severe post-harvest losses in crops.

Moreover, the fertilizer deal between Sri Lanka and China has caused the island nation's exchequer a loss of USD 6.9 million as the stock of fertilizer was rejected in December 2021 over reports that it contained harmful bacteria.

However, both parties later reached a settlement in the Sri Lankan Commercial High court and the Chinese company withdrew the lawsuit in China, reported Daily Mirror.

"It is reported that our company took the Performance Bond back according to the ruling of the Chinese court, which is inconsistent with the fact. The Performance Bond is automatically invalid after expiration because the relevant parties of Sri Lanka failed to fulfil the commitment of L/C renewal, resulting in the expiry of the L/C," Song Hai Mei said.

The Chinese company said that its organic fertilizer products fully comply with the contract, and the project is fully qualified to continue.

"Since the beginning of 2022, our company has constantly been urging relevant parties in Sri Lanka to promote the implementation of the project as soon as possible according to the supplementary agreement reached in February 2022. Unfortunately, up to now, we have not obtained any substantial response or positive action from Sri Lanka," the Chinese company added.

Notably, Sri Lanka's sudden decision this April to make a complete shift to organic fertilisers, ban imports of chemical fertilisers, and use domestic bio-fertilisers led to protests by farmers, who complained they didn't have time to make a switch, and soaring food prices.

Meanwhile, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group said that the project has caused great losses to the company, reported Daily Mirror.

"It is reported that our company has rejected the proposal of providing chemical fertilizer instead of organic fertilizer put forward by the relevant parties of Sri Lanka. We hereby reiterate and explain that our company has indeed rejected the proposal because the bidding project and the subject matter agreed in the contract are organic fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers, and we are not obliged to provide chemical fertilizers. Our company is a professional manufacturer of organic fertilizers and seaweed fertilizers, not a chemical fertilizers manufacturer, and does not have the conditions to produce chemical fertilizers. According to China's current export policy, chemical fertilizers cannot be exported," the company added.

The company reminded the relevant parties in Sri Lanka to respect the spirit of the contract between both sides and learn from the experience of developed countries.

The exchanges between the Lankan and Chinese officials have come at a time when Sri Lanka is suffering from a massive food crisis.