Fertiliser imports increased in last five years

Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology has revealed that fertiliser imports have increased in the last five years. The information was published in the report on the Baseline Assessment on National Use of Chemicals and Associated Risks 2022.

The report provides an overview of the overall landscape of chemical consumption and management in the Maldives. It acts as a referential source for trends in the usage of chemicals in all major economic sectors and the associated environmental and health risks.

The report states that the largest chemical consumers in the Maldives include key economic sectors consisting of agriculture, healthcare services, energy and transport, tourism, food production, construction, and boat building. In general, the total value of chemical imports shows a steady increase in all sectors from 2017 to 2021 apart from 2020, which is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on businesses. In 2020, a dramatic increase was noted for the import of disinfectants with a steady increase in the demand for pharmaceuticals and fertilisers imports.

The report states that fertilisers and pesticides are the most common chemical applications in agriculture. In 2021, imported chemical fertilisers totalled 1,394 tonnes, while the bulk of pesticides imported were insecticides, with nearly a fivefold increase from 2017 to 2021. It also states that priority carcinogenic and highly toxic chemicals that are currently imported to the Maldives based on International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) include pesticides classified as potential human carcinogens, asbestos in several forms imported for use by the construction sector, styrene consumed by the boat building industry, formaldehyde, and minute amounts of compounds on nickel, cadmium, and chromium (IV). The report warns that stringent regulation is required to limit occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals, with considerable amounts of potentially carcinogenic and toxic chemicals being consumed.

The report further states that there are considerable impediments to the sound management of chemicals in the Maldives, in particular, the absence of overarching chemical legislation and the fragmented institutional framework for the life-cycle management of chemicals. It, however, states efforts are underway to strengthen the legal framework, including the development of a Hazardous Chemicals Management Bill. It also states there is an urgent need to build infrastructure for chemical waste storage and disposal while inadequate local capacity for testing chemicals to support enforcement and monitoring is another major impeding factor. It highlighted the importance of raising awareness and understanding of the importance of sound chemical management at all levels.