Govt blames price hike for its failure to supply fertilizers to farmers on time

Published On: December 2, 2021 07:10 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Dec 2: Almost every year, farmers are left high and dry due to the shortage of fertilizers when the crop plantation season starts, but the government bodies concerned shy away from their responsibility citing various excuses.

This time, the government has been blaming the shortage on an excessive price hike of the agricultural inputs in the international market. Speaking at a program on Wednesday, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development, Mahendra Raya Yadav expressed the government’s inability to supply chemical fertilizers in the domestic market because of the price hike in the international market.

Instead of going into action to manage the supply, the government’s minister who is the delegated authority to look after the country’s agriculture-related issues is in tune with the Agriculture Inputs Company Limited (AICL). According to the AICL, in the past few weeks, the price has increased by USD 300 per ton in the international market due to which the contractor companies have been dilly-dallying to import chemical fertilizers.

Last year too, the farmers were affected after the two companies selected by the government for fertilizer import -- Shailung Enterprises and Honiko Multiple Pvt. Ltd -- failed to supply fertilizers as per their contracts. Although the government moved to bring in 50,000 tons of fertilizers from Bangladesh through a government-to-government purchase mechanism, the agriculture inputs arrived only after the completion of the plantation season.    

Bhairab Raj Kaini, an agro expert, said the last-hour move of the government to initiate the procurement process of fertilizers is the main cause of shortage of fertilizers in the country. According to him, the government-to-government purchasing, joint-venture investment with fertilizer producing companies and production of fertilizers inside the country could help provide a long term solution to the problem.

The government authorities reiterate their concern on installing fertilizer production plants inside the country only at the moment when the shortage grapples the farmers, which however has yet to be materialized in reality. At Wednesday's mass gathering too, Minister Yadav expressed similar lofty words before the public. “The government has been putting its effort into establishing a fertilizer factory to tackle the shortage,” he said.

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