Farmers likely to face fertiliser shortage in winter

  • delay in imports
- SHANKAR ACHARYA, PARSA

Oct 16, 2017-

The country is likely to face acute shortage of fertilisers in the coming days due to delay in imports of the key agricultural input. This is expected to hit farmers who plant wheat and legumes during the winter.

Offices of Agriculture Inputs Company (AIC) located in Birgunj, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Dhangadi currently have a stock of 1,150 tonnes of urea and 350 tonnes of diammonium phosphate (DAP). Farmers need at least 300,000 tonnes and urea and 200,000 tonnes of DAP during winter.

Even AIC’s Birgunj branch office, which is the top fertiliser importer in Nepal, has a stock of 243 tonnes of urea, 174 tonnes of DAP and 1339 tonnes of potash, according to Office Chief Ajay Kumar Srivastav.

AIC has already ordered 25,000 tonnes of urea, but the consignment is stuck in Kolkata port. “I don’t know the exact reason for this delay,” Srivastav said.

AIC had also initiated the process of bringing in 30,000 tonnes of urea and 25,000 tonnes of DAP from another firm, but it had terminated the procurement process citing “technical reasons”. Following termination of this process, the government had started negotiations with the Indian government to import fertilisers, but this process has not made much headway.

A delegation led by AIC Managing Director Amar Raj Khair had requested the Indian government to supply fertilisers to Nepal. But Indian officials said they would only be able to supply 7,500 tonnes of urea, as India itself is facing shortage of fertilisers, sources said. 

“Nepal has already made payments for the fertiliser pledged by India and the first consignment has already arrived in Jogbani,” said a source. 

Currently, AIC has no option but to initiate a fresh bidding process to procure fertilisers. But this process will take at least 90 days. This implies farmers will face shortage of fertilisers during winter crop plantation season.

Salt Trading Corporation, another state-owned trader of fertiliser, also does not have adequate stock of fertilisers. It is formally beginning the procurement process on Monday. This means the consignments of fertilisers will arrive in Nepal in mid-February. By that time farmers would have planted winter crops.

Taking advantage of this situation, private companies have already started selling inferior quality of fertilisers like single super phosphate and double super phosphate.

Demand for fertilisers, according to Srivastav, surged after the government reduced the prices of the inputs last year. 

According to the Agricultural Ministry’s statistics, the annual demand for chemical fertilisers currently stands at over 720,000 tonnes. Subsidised fertilisers cover only one-fourth of the country’s total requirement, and the rest is met by informal imports, or shipments smuggled through the porous border with India. A study conducted by the Finance Ministry in 2006 has put the share of informal fertiliser imports at 71.6 percent of total supplies.

Published: 16-10-2017 08:33

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