A worker carries a sack of fertilizer at a warehouse of Agricultural Inputs Company Limited in Biratnagar in this recent picture. Binod Subedi/Republica
BIRATNAGAR, August, 1: Rampyar Yadav, a seasoned farmer from Jahada village of Morang, has no memory of a single year when he did not have to struggle for fertilizer. No matter how proper preparation he did or how much rapport he built with fertilizer suppliers, he has always struggled with the shortage of fertilizers in the hour of need. He recently completed planting paddy in his farms. ‘Everything went well, except for the arrangement of fertilizers.’
“It is unfortunate that the government can’t even ensure proper supply of fertilizers for the farmers.
Every year I find it very hard to manage adequate fertilizers for my crops,” said Yadav, who is also the chairperson of the local agriculture committee. “Every farmer here struggles with the shortage of fertilizers every year.”
Farmers in Morang were worried about fertilizer much earlier than the monsoon started. They wanted to stock up fertilizers sufficient for their farms before planting paddy in the fields. But like every year, they met with the same kind of fertilizer shortage this year too.
“And because we could not get fertilizers on time, we could not plant paddy on time,” reported Yadav. “Paddy is said to be a major crop in our country. Still, the government is so negligent that it does not even ensure an adequate supply of fertilizers required for the crop.”
The nation observes paddy day on 15th of the Nepali month of Asar. This year too, it was celebrated across the country with much excitement by government bodies. While these celebrations were underway, most farmers were concerned with fertilizer shortage in the market. Lack of irrigation facility, as well as fertilizers, has always marred their zeal.
“We had been pressing the agriculture office for ensuring an adequate supply of fertilizers in the market for a long time. Though they hinted that this year too there might be a shortage of fertilizer, we kept visiting them, almost every day. Finally, as feared, they did not deliver a sufficient quantity of fertilizers,” elaborated Yadav.
He added the government is not concerned with the woes of farmers and it only seeks cheap popularity by making bogus announcements.
The committee that Rampyra chairs consist of 25 members. And they had demanded 55 sacks of fertilizers this season for paddy plantation. However, they
were provided with not more than five sacks of fertilizers.
“The government announces plans to boost agricultural productions. There are legal provisions that discourage keeping lands barren and importing agricultural products. But without having adequate fertilizers and tools, does the government expects to farm for a loss?” Yadav questions.
When the members received only five sacks of the demanded 55 bags of fertilizers, they distributed it among themselves in kilograms. At least one sack of fertilizer is required for a bigha of land. But in lack of fertilizers farmers couldn’t do that, said Yadav.
Farmers lamented that they could not bring fertilizers even from Indian towns across the border due to government restrictions.
“In the past, needy farmers used to buy fertilizers on their own from border side Indian towns. However, this year they were not allowed to do by the border patrol and customs,” said Dayananda Mandal, a farmer from Babiyabirta of Morang.
Mandal doubts that the government would ever provide sufficient fertilizers to farmers. He argued that farmers perceive so, and because of such perception, many farmers have stopped visiting the government fertilizer supply centers. In recent years, farmers of Morang have started bringing fertilizers from India, and the dependency on Indian fertilizers has been growing steadily over the years, he said.
“But we face hassles even while bringing the fertilizers from India. The government has been making it very hard for us to buy fertilizers from India,” said Mandal. “This year, it was made nearly impossible to get from across the border.”
Gobinda Prasad Parajuli, chief of the Regional Department of Agriculture, admitted the shortage of fertilizers. “And this is sure to affect the productions,” he said. He added that the reason behind the shortage is the delay in the procurement and distribution process.
The government does not provide fertilizers to farmers directly. It distributes through cooperatives. Parajuli stated that each cooperative was provided with 25 sacks of fertilizers, ‘though demand was much higher’.
Parajuli further stated that the import of fertilizer is far less than its market demand. While there is a demand of seven metric ton of fertilizers annually, only around three metric ton is imported annually. “So the problem persists,” he said.
Mandal said that the government should either import sufficient quantity of fertilizer and distribute it to farmers on time or it should allow the farmers to buy the quantity they require from India.