Harry’s seed slips
Customs Quarantine Division and Agriculture Department
Seed Certification and Plant Protection Centre officials are tight-lipped
over a consignment of grass seed imported by a company owned by
a business tycoon which allegedly contained a harmful weed.
Two consignments of grass seed had been imported
from Australia and New Zealand in the name of Lanka Milk Foods Company
owned by businessman Harry Jayawardena.
Consignments contained 600 kilograms of the variety
‘Tall Fescue Festuca Arundinacea’ from Australia and
600 kilograms of Rye Grass seed and 125 kilograms of ‘White
Clover’ from New Zealand, according to the permit issued to
the company by the Agriculture Department.
The Quarantine Division had sent samples of the
seed to the Seed Certification and Plant Protection Centre in Peradeniya
for examination to determine whether they contained harmful weeds
but officials later declined to comment on the results of the tests.
Seed Certification and Plant Protection Centre Director Dr. Kumudu
Fernando said no comment could be made about the results.
“We are not in a position to give any details
with regard to the report on the seed samples”, Dr. Fernando
Customs Chief Preventive Officer Samantha Gunasekara
said he should have been informed about the alleged consignment.
A few months ago another consignment of grass seed imported by the
same company and found to be contaminated with a harmful weed was
released despite recommendations from quarantine officials that
it be re-shipped to Australia.
Approval for the release had been granted by the
Agriculture Development Ministry Secretary, allegedly ignoring objections
from quarantine officials at the Colombo Port and from Dr. Kumudu
Colombo Port authorities had ordered the re-shipment
after detecting the weed identified as Bromus mollis in the 500
kilograms of Tetila rye grass seed and the 50 kilograms of Haifa
White Clover seed imported from Australia.