Hridoy-e Mati Agro, a shop in Mohammadpur that sells agricultural supplies, has a whole rack that showcases one kilogramme and five kilogramme packs of ACI Organic Fertiliser (Bumper). But, the registration of the fertiliser was canceled in 2019.
The National Fertiliser Standardisation Committee Bangladesh cancelled registration of ACI Organic Fertiliser (Bumper) and nine other organic fertilisers due to their adulteration and low quality.
Despite the fact that producing, marketing and selling a fertiliser after the cancellation of its registration is strictly prohibited, ACI Fertiliser is regularly producing and selling the organic fertiliser ignoring the law.
According to the dates printed on the packet of ACI Organic Fertiliser (Bumper) bought from Hridoy-e Mati Agro shop, the fertiliser was produced in September 2020, and it will expire in August 2023.
Md Rakib, owner of the shop and a dealer of ACI fertiliser, said, "The company has not informed us about the cancellation of the registration of this fertiliser. That is why we are selling it."
"Additionally, if the fertiliser's registration was cancelled, then its production should have been stopped. But we are getting a regular supply of the fertiliser when we order it," said Rakib.
Bashir Ahmed, business director of ACI Fertiliser, told The Business Standard, "After the registration was cancelled, we applied to test the fertiliser again. No problem was found with the fertiliser in the new test."
Asked if the National Fertiliser Standardisation Committee sent ACI a letter permitting them to produce the fertiliser, Bashir Ahmed said, the regulatory body gave ACI "verbal permission" to produce it.
Last year, the fertiliser standardisation committee tested samples of a number of organic fertilisers and found that ten of them were adulterated and of poor quality.
Based on the findings, the regulatory body cancelled the registration of: ACI Organic Fertiliser (Bumper), Chukchuk Organic Fertiliser 102, Chukchuk Organic Fertiliser 150, Meghna Organic Fertiliser, Hisan Organic Fertiliser, Arko Organic Fertiliser, Mukti Organic Fertiliser, GTS Organic Fertiliser, Benamil Organic Fertiliser, and E-vermi Compost Fertiliser.
The standardisation committee sent a letter to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), asking to take action against the manufacturers of these 10 fertilisers in accordance with the Fertiliser (Management) Act 2006.
The DAE was also directed to monitor that these fertilisers are not sold at markets.
However, the DAE took no immediate action to monitor the market. They sent a letter to the field level employees regarding the matter on 26 November this year, 17 months after cancellation of registrations of the fertilisers.
In that letter, the DAE said some of the organic fertilisers whose registration was cancelled are still being sold at markets and the fertiliser inspectors should intensify their supervision activities to ensure that the farmers get quality organic fertilisers.
The DAE also directed the inspectors to take legal action against the sellers of these fertilisers.
Mahfuz Hossain Mirdah, director of the Field Service Wing of DAE, told TBS, "We have sent a letter to the inspectors, who will take necessary actions after making inquiries. There is no scope of producing and selling fertiliser after its registration has been cancelled."
Echoing the DAE official, Executive Secretary of the Bangladesh Fertiliser Association Riaz Uddin Ahmed told TBS, "There is no scope of producing and selling fertiliser after the cancellation of its registration. If anyone is doing that, then we will inform the regulatory body to take the necessary action."
Apart from adulterated and low quality fertiliser, the agencies concerned took action against ACI in some other cases for selling poor quality products.
After Covid-19 started spreading in the country, a mobile court fined the company Tk1 crore when toxic methanol was found in ACI's hand sanitiser.
A mobile court of the Rapid Action Battalion fined Tetley ACI Bangladesh Tk17 lakh on 4 October this year for marketing expired tea. The mobile court also sealed off a storehouse of ACI during that drive.
In May last year, the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institutions ordered the production and distribution of 52 low quality products – among which were ACI Pure Dhania (coriander) Powder and ACI Pure Salt – to stop.