KATHMANDU, Sept 8: Farmers in most parts of the country are now facing shortage of chemical fertilizers as the government has failed to ensure that the market demands are met. The shortage of fertilizers, at a time when farmers need it most while weeding their paddy fields, has left them worried.
Uddhab Adhikari, president of National Farmers Group Federation (NFGF), said that the farmers in many parts of the country, mostly in tarai districts, have been facing shortage of fertilizers for top-dressing of paddy.
“There are complaints from the farmers from many districts that they have not been able to buy fertilizers,” said Adhikari. “The problem is mainly due to the inability of the government to supply fertilizers.”
Farmers are worried that the shortage of fertilizers is likely to reduce the production of paddy.
Though the government had allocated Rs 6 billion for supplying chemical fertilizers to farmers at subsidized rate, fertilizers remain in short supply this year as well. The government has been entrusting the responsibility to Krishi Samagri Company Ltd (KSC) and Salt Trading Corporation Ltd (STC) for the supply of chemical fertilizers. The KSCL supplies 70 percent of the chemical fertilizer, while the NTL sells the remaining 30 percent.
Ammar Raj Khair, managing director at the KSC, admitted that there was deficit of chemical fertilizers in the country. He said that a lack of stock from last year has caused shortage of supply this year. “As there was no stock of fertilizer from the last year, farmers from some districts are facing shortage,” he said. According to Khair, the government-owned company is importing 31,000 metric tons of chemical fertilizers to address the current shortage.
“17,000 tons out of 31,000 tons imported from China have already been delivered to us, while the rest is on the way. The shortage of chemical fertilizers will get resolved in two or three days,” he said.
Khair said that the budget allocated by the government was not adequate to import fertilizers as required due price rise in the international market.
On the other hand, STC has not started the procurement process stating that it has not received the payment of over Rs 1 billion for the fertilizers that it had imported in the last Fiscal Year 2017/18.
To get rid of the recurring shortage of fertilizers, officials say that the government is preparing to import fertilizers from India directly through the Indian government. The government has so far been purchasing fertilizers through tender bid. Now, it is planning to get fertilizers by signing a government-level agreement with India, according to officials.
Out of the allocated budget of Rs 6 billion for the current Fiscal Year 2018/19 to supply subsidized fertilizers to farmers, the government plans to procure the agro input worth Rs 3 billion through tender process while remaining fertilizers will be imported through government-to-government deal.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has already sent a proposal to the Indian government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to directly procure 150,000 tons of fertilizers from the Indian government. The rest, 150,000 metric tons, will be purchased through tender process.
The annual demand of chemical fertilizers is estimated to remain at 500,000 metric tons. The government supplies only 300,000 tons, and the farmers have to buy the rest 200,000 tons from the market at a higher price.