MoALD facing difficulties in managing fertilisers

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KATHMANDU, JUNE 12

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) is facing difficulties in ensuring smooth supply of fertilisers for paddy plantation this year.

As import and transportation have been affected due to the lockdown and border restrictions, this year fertilisers are unlikely to reach the farmers on time despite the government’s earlier promises.

This year, the ministry had set a target to distribute 450,000 tonnes of chemical fertilisers to farmers for paddy plantation.

“China was already locked down and lockdown started in India and Nepal around almost the same time.

Because of this, our orders have been stuck at the Kolkata port,” said Rajendra Prasad Bhari, MoALD secretary.

“All the loading and unloading activities at the port have been halted due to the lockdown and 50,000 tonnes of fertilisers are halted there. However, we have been trying to bring them gradually in recent days.”

The fertilisers were supposed to have been delivered by mid-May.

As per Secretary Bhari, a total of 21,500 tonnes of urea fertilisers are stranded at Kandla port in Gujarat.

“As the Kolkata port was closed, we had tried to bring the fertilisers via Kandla port, but they have also been stuck there since almost a monthand-a-half,” he said, “Diplomatic discussions are underway though.”

As per him, around 100,000 tonnes of fertilisers have been stranded at the Indian ports due to the lockdown.

Although urea, diammonium phosphate (DAP) and potash can be used for plantation, generally farmers prefer urea, he said, adding, “We have requested farmers to use a mix of available fertilisers instead of using only one type in large quantity.”

It is to be noted that every year farmers have a tough time getting urea fertilisers for plantation. Urea is needed for cultivation of maize as well. For first top dressing of planted paddy, 110,000 tonnes of urea and 70,000 tonnes of DAP are needed.

However, Agriculture Inputs Company and Salt Trading Corporation have combined stock of only 9,148 tonnes of urea and 12,972 tonnes of DAP.

Yet, the government has assured that they will make the fertilisers available by the end of June.

Bhari further added that if any fertiliser dealer or cooperative is found to be selling fertilisers at higher price taking advantage of the shortage, MoALD will take action against them.

A total of 1.5 million hectares of land in the country is arable for paddy plantation, of which, 70 per cent of land lies in the Tarai region.

“The paddy plantation begins by mid-July in Tarai region, so by that time we will be importing fertilisers and distributing it to the farmers,” said Hari Bahadur KC, spokesperson for MoALD.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 13, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.


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