Govt earmarks Rs 15 billion and calls for tender bids to import chemical fertilizers

Published On: April 15, 2024 10:05 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

MoALD says it targets to import chemical fertilizers on time to remove possible shortage during upcoming plantation season

KATHMANDU, April 15: The government has started the process to call tender bids to import chemical fertilizers with a target to bring in the agricultural inputs on time in order to avert their possible short supply during the upcoming paddy plantation season.

Holding a meeting on Sunday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD), said the ministry has allocated Rs 15 billion to import chemical fertilizers for the upcoming plantation season. According to the MoALD, the ministry has called for bidding from interested firms to supply prescribed quantities of the fertilizers.

Govinda Prasad Sharma, secretary of the MoALD, informed that the ministry is seeking to procure 260,000 tons of chemical fertilizers. “The process, if started after the annual budget announcement, could delay the import of fertilizers for wheat production. So, we started the tender process before the announcement of the budget for the next fiscal year,” Sharma said.

The MoALD has planned to procure 210,000 tons of urea, 97,865 tons of DAP and 13,951 tons of potash in total. In the first nine months of the current fiscal year, the government distributed 176,000 tons of urea, 108,797 tons of DAP and 9,000 tons of potash to farmers.   

Almost every year, farmers have been facing shortage of fertilizers during the main plantation season. Although the government every year expresses its commitment to provide the agriculture inputs on time, it fails to keep up its promises either due to the delay by contractors or the bureaucratic red tape in the process of issuing tenders.

Minister for Agriculture Jwala Kumari Sah sought a need for making a separate guideline to purchase chemical fertilizers. “In the lack of related guidelines, the import of chemical fertilizers often undergoes a number of problems, which often causes delay in the distribution,” she added.  

The government has been providing subsidies of more than Rs 32 billion annually on chemical fertilizers. In the fiscal year 2022/23, a total of 426,007 metric tons of chemical fertilizers worth about Rs 40.5 billion were imported into Nepal. 

Through the announcement of the budget almost every year, the government promises to install chemical fertilizer factories in the country. However, it has been only a matter of talks till date.

Recently, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has forwarded its plan to operate a chemical fertilizer factory in the country. The state-owned oil monopoly has planned to attract foreign investors citing that the chemical fertilizer factory will cost more than Rs 100 billion.

A study conducted by the Investment Board of Nepal (IBN) revealed that natural gas is the most suitable model to produce chemical fertilizers inside the country. The IBN has suggested that the factory could be installed in Dhalkebar in Dhanusha, Jalajle in Udayapur, and Bardghat in Nawalparasi.

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