Govt seeks ‘freebies’ along with fertilizers resulting in a shortage: MPs

Published On: June 11, 2022 12:31 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 11: The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has been criticized in parliament for not delivering chemical fertilizers on time. During the discussions on the agriculture ministry in the House of Representatives recently under various headings of the Appropriation Bill, the members of the parliament complained that the farmers were at a grave loss due to the government not delivering fertilizers on time. They urged the government m to pay special attention to this.

Farmers are worried as they face a shortage of fertilizers even though the cultivation season has begun. Gagan Thapa, the MP from Nepali Congress, mentioned in parliament that the Ministry of Agriculture and its ministers and staff were to be held responsible for the shortage of chemical fertilizers in the country. 

“The ministry provides the farmers with statements, not fertilizers; we see images of crying farmers,” he said. Thapa claimed that he had met the prime minister and president of Nepali Congress, Sher Bahadur Deuba, and informed him about the hardships the farmers have to go through due to the dearth of fertilizers when they need it most. “Then the Prime Minister had immediately talked to the minister,” he added. 

According to Thapa, about 394 kg per hectare in China, 125 per hectare in India and 87 kg per hectare of fertilizer is used in Nepal. “Technically, Nepal needs 1.297 million metric tons. As much as 520,000 metric tons is what we urgently need,” he said. Thapa, while stating that Nepal requires anywhere around 2 to 3 hundred thousand metric tons of chemical fertilizers only in May and June, went on to say that the country would still not receive fertilizers even though the Ministry of Agriculture has promised to bring them into the country by mid-July. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, 192,000 metric tons of fertilizers will arrive by mid-July.

UML MP Yogesh Bhattarai spoke about how the farmers have not been able to get fertilizers even after the onset of the rainy season and went on to demand immediate arrangements. Informing parliament of the agriculture minister who had gone to India looking for fertilizers and had not returned yet, he asked, “Did he not come because he did not get the fertilizers? Has he been exiled from the country?” Agriculture Minister Mahendra Ray Yadav has been in India for a week. He accused the government of expecting ‘freebies’ along with fertilizers and “as they didn’t get the freebies, the fertilizers have not arrived in the country on time.” 

“The fertilizers are available but the government is not interested in bringing them. The government expects ‘freebies’ along with the fertilizers. Until that doesn't come, fertilizers won’t come as well.” He also blamed the government for introducing the farmers’ pension program to serve the interests of landlords. He said that since farmers would have to deposit a certain amount of money to participate in the program, it would be impossible for the poor and landless to benefit from the program.

“Only the rich and the landlords will be able to save that amount,” he adds. “In this way, the government has introduced the pension program to serve the landlords.” He adds that the Ministry of Agriculture has been in talks ever since it was said that the government would be giving pensions to the farmers but the number of years for the farmers to receive the pensions remains unclear. Disclosing that the farmers have not yet been classified or listed, he mentions that farmers of all economic backgrounds: rich, poor, landless, marginalized — write ‘farmer’ while filling out the form. 

Since the landlords also write ‘farmer’ in the form, he questioned the kind of farmers that the farmers’ pension scheme was targeting. He compared the implementation of the pension program to that of keeping tigers and goats in the same cage and seeking protection of goats from tigers. He stressed the need for implementing the program only after listing and classifying the farmers.

Similarly, Maoist Center MP Aman Lal Modi mentioned that the budget has made the farmers enthusiastic and proceeded to point out the need to focus on the consumption and marketing of agricultural produce. MP Umashankar Argariya from the Democratic Socialist Party said the worry of the farmers about not getting fertilizers persists every year and urged the government to be serious about it. He added that while the government has introduced good policies concerning the agriculture sector, the practical implementation of such policies must also be focused on. 

Likewise, Nepali Congress MP Dila Sangraula demanded the government engage in diplomatic talks with the government of India to bring chemical fertilizers into the country. She disclosed before parliament that because the government was unable to make arrangements for fertilizers, the godowns were empty even if the cultivation season had begun. She said it is inappropriate to reduce the budget for chemical fertilizers for the next year by nearly 50 per cent. 


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