AsiaDry CargoGreater China

Chinese fertiliser shipment kicks up a stink in Sri Lanka

The crew of the Marshall Islands-flagged Hippo Spirit handy bulk carrier find themselves at the centre of an Asian diplomatic spat, drifting in waters off the west coast of Sri Lanka with a cargo of controversial fertiliser onboard.

The ship left Qingdao on September 22 carrying 20,000 tonnes of organic fertiliser bound for Colombo. The Sri Lankan government had earlier in the year banned all chemical fertiliser imports, intent on making the country the world’s first completely organic farming nation.

The first shipment of seaweed-based fertiliser from Qingdao Seawin Bio-tech Group however did not pass tests carried out by Sri Lankan authorities who claim the material contains harmful bacteria, something strongly denied by the Chinese supplier, which has since initiated a lawsuit against the Sri Lankan National Plant Quarantine Service for the loss of reputation it has suffered.

A court in Colombo ordered the state-owned People’s Bank to stop payment of $9m for the cargo already awaiting entry.

The ship, which arrived in Colombo at the end of October, was barred from offloading its cargo and has now moved southwest of the capital awaiting instructions.

Further tests of the fertiliser are set to take place this week as the rare farming spat between the two Asian allies runs on.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Why are the Sri Lanka Government not producing their own pathogen free organic fertilser?
    With population of approximately twenty million there will be enough organic waste,human biosolid waste,animal waste, Animal by products etc to make their own pathogen free organic fertilser.

    1. Sri Lanka is at the mercy of corrupt politicians. They expect monetary commissions from all projects with foreign collaborations. The Finance minister is known as Mr. TEN PERCENT. This is why they do not want to give an opportunity to the residents to manufacture even basic products. One family and their henchmen are ruling the country.

  2. The issue in importing Chinese fertiliser has MANY Issues. When you consider the subject matter the VALUE involed
    is SO HIGH in USD the procurement team plus the ministers and their coordinators are considered to BE CORRUPT
    ultimately the scenario of a third party involvement had MESSED UP the situation TOTALLY.

  3. the reporter intentionally omit the following facts.

    1. Chinese fertiliser has been supplying this type of sea weed fertiliser to US and Australia with much strict requirements without any issue.

    2. Sri Lanka’s took 3 days for the lab to determine there are bad pathogens .
    However, it is international acknowledged that the labs need 6 days to culture the bacteria.
    The evidence reflects it is Corruption and Lies going on with the Sri Lanka’s authority

Back to top button