Fertilizer shortage and increase in prices causing problems for farmers

Wheat production might be affected as the result of fertilizer shortage

The shortage of fertiliser is causing problems for the farmers busy in sowing the wheat crop. With the shortage of fertiliser and the increase in the prices of Urea and DAP, farmers are fear that this might affect the production of wheat.

The farmers are suffering as the hoarders and dealers are making profits. They are creating artificial shortage and then selling the fertiliser at higher prices. The farmers are paying the price for the greed and profits of the fertiliser mafia.  

They are concerned about the possible decline in per acre yield as the result of this shortage.  The federal government has increased the target of wheat production from 27.3 million tonnes of last year to 30 million tonnes for this season. This target of wheat production might missed if the issue of shortage is not addressed. 

Pakistan will be forced to import wheat and spend precious foreign exchange on the import of the wheat. The Punjab government is not ready to accept its mismanagement and failure to provide fertiliser to farmers on subsidised rates. 

One bag of urea fertiliser is being sold between Rs 2300 to Rs 2500 while DAP is being sold between Rs 8500 to Rs 9500 in different areas. At least one bag per acre of DAP is applied while preparing the land for sowing wheat, while three bags of urea are applied during the growth period of the crop.

Farmers and private experts are fearing that the shortage of the compost may damage the per acre yield of wheat, provincial agriculture authorities are, however, downplaying the factor, saying that the fertiliser shortage may be overcome through efficient use of the available commodity.

The fertilisers were being sold on exorbitant rates but the government had not taken any concrete measure to protect the farmers. The farmers are not being provided fertilisers, owing to which they are facing severe problems.

The farmers are complaining that various fertilizer retailers are selling a urea bag for Rs2,300 to 2,500, but would issue the receipt of Rs1,768 after taking a picture of the farmer with this document.

Similarly, a DAP bag is being sold at Rs8, 500 to 8,700 against the receipt of Rs8, 123. Farmers said their complaints to district and agriculture officials brought about no results.

Taking notice of the price hike and artificial shortage, the standing committee of national assembly on production and industries has recommended the government instead of providing indirect subsidy to the farmers, it should be provided directly especially DAP fertiliser.

The committee further recommended that a viable price control mechanism should also be defined to facilitate the farmers. The committee also recommended that subsidy may be provided on targeted basis by selection of crops.

The committee discussed the issues being faced by the farmers due to shortage of Di Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertiliser and increase in prices. The panel expressed its grave concerns over the increase of price and shortage of DAP fertiliser.

The Committee was briefed about the subsidy and monitoring procedure. The members were of the opinion that subsidy on fertilizer (DAP) should be negotiated with importers, instead of retailers or shopkeepers. The committee was informed that a meeting was held today, headed by the prime minister to address these issues.

The members said that agricultural input costs have been significantly increased over the past three years. In 2018, urea fertiliser was available at Rs1,100 per bag, which now has crossed Rs3,000 mark, the DAP fertiliser was available at Rs2,800 per bag, which now in some parts of the country has reached Rs9,000 per bag, and diesel was available at Rs78 per litre, which now has crossed Rs140 per litre mark.

The committee noted that input cost including seeds, fertilisers, and fuel witnessed manifold increases and make cost of production higher as compared to the previous period. The committee members said that due to increase in input cost, per acre costs of all the crops have also increased such as wheat cultivation costing is above Rs62, 000.

They asked the government either to increase minimum support price to compensate local farmers or bring down the inputs costs by providing direct subsidies.

                                                                   Ahmad Ali


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