May 17, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Minister of Agriculture, Mahinda Amaraweera has appointed an expert committee to conduct a feasibility study on producing phosphate fertilizer from the apatite deposit in Eppawala in Anuradhapura district.
The seven-member expert committee is chaired by Secretary to the State Ministry of Agriculture, D. V. Bandulasena, according to the ministry.
During a meeting held between the Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera and the officials of the Ministry, it has been pointed out that phosphate fertilizer was not being produced from the Eppawala Phosphate deposit.
Officials have pointed out to the Minister that, the Eppawala phosphate deposit can produce enough fertilizer to meet the phosphate fertilizer needs of the whole country and the phosphate specialty found in Eppawala deposit is devoid of Cadmium,
The officials explained that Rs. 9 billion is needed to process the rock phosphate to enhance its solubility and quantities of phosphate sufficient for the country could be produced from the deposit.
The Minister has agreed that it is reasonable to spend Rs. 9 billion to produce fertilizer locally when the government has to spend Rs. 35 billion to import the phosphate fertilizer.
Accordingly, the Minister has decided to appoint an expert committee to identify the economic benefits of manufacturing of phosphate fertilizer and strategies for production and the funds required.
Eppawala apatite deposit situated in the Anuradhapura District in the North Central province was discovered in 1971. The main problem of the Eppawala Rock Phosphate is that its low solubility, preventing its usage in short term crops. Its solubility has to be increased to use in short duration crops.