Unaffordable fertiliser prices
By Tahir Ali
prices of fertiliser have gone up in the market with the
arrival of Kharif season in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Growers
say that surge in prices of fertiliser, an important input
in farm production, has become unaffordable for small
They fear that its consumption in cultivation may drop
considerably hampering the per acre crop yield. To avoid the
situation, they have demanded sufficient supply of
fertilisers at lower rates through an improved delivery
Abdur Rahim Khan, general secretary of the Sarhad Chamber of
Agriculture (SCA), said farmers in the province were not
getting fertilisers at subsidised rates.
“The government gives a subsidy of over Rs750/50kg on
imported and over Rs300 on locally manufactured urea. The
farmers complain that they are not getting any benefit.
Instead, the commodity is being sold at much higher rates in
the market. If the farmers do not get any benefit from the
subsidy, then of what use it is,” he asked?
“Though there is no shortage of fertiliser in the market,
the prices have gone up enormously during the last three
months. Majority of the farmers are subsistence farmers who
have no money to purchase expensive fertilisers. If the
government does not intervene immediately, it may badly
impact the sugarcane, maize and other Kharif crops, fruits
and vegetables and bring down per hectare yield as well as
result in under cultivation of land,” he asserted.
The consumption of fertilisers is determined by soil, water
availability, price trends and supply position. But the
price issue usually is the main factor. “The prices of urea
has jumped from Rs730 to Rs840 per bag, DAP from Rs1,900 to
over Rs2,600 while price of Zarkhez has gone up from Rs1,900
to Rs2,200 over the past three months,” Khan added.
According to the National Fertiliser Development
Corporation, the monthly use of urea country-wide saw 8.8,
18.1 and 20.5 per cent decline from January to March as
compared to the same period last year. The off-take of DAP
dropped by 39.2 and 17.2 per cent in February and March as
compared to previous Rabi season. Figures for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
are not available but sources say the situation may have
been even worse for the province.
Farmers’ awareness campaigns are not needed on the issue.
“We know the importance of fertilisers. What we need is
smooth, timely and cheaper availability of the commodity at
the required time. Establishment of village agricultural
centre, on the pattern of utility stores where all types of
agricultural inputs are available to farmers, could solve
the fertiliser supply problem,” said a farmer.
He said the government should try to improve the
distribution mechanism. “For this, it should closely work
with farmers’ representatives and bodies. The private
fertiliser companies should ensure a strict supervision of
their dealer network. This, of course, will also requires
that agencies and dealers should be provided enough stock of
the commodity,” he added.
A marketing department official of a fertiliser
company said that there were no official or
controlled prices for fertilisers as it was a
“Domestic production of urea is less than the
demand. Therefore, it is imported and sold by the
government itself through the National Fertiliser
Marketing Limited (NFML). In case of delay in
imports by the government, shortages may occur,
resulting in higher rates in the market,” he added.
Regarding concerns that dealers are minting money by
selling fertilisers at exhorbitant rates, he said
the dealers were being monitored regularly and
directed to sell products at company’s prescribed
rates. “Any major irregularity or identification of
any such an instance, results in strict action
against the dealer which may lead to termination of
his dealership. However, better planning and imports
at right time by the government will ensure
availability of urea at reasonable prices,” he said.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the total off-take of urea
and DAP for the coming Kharif season is estimated at
180,000 tons and 150,000 tons respectively. Federal
minister for industries had told the Senate that the
NFML supplied 41,956 metric tons of urea to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
during September, 2008 to February, 2010. He said
the body did not supply urea stocks to any area of
FATA directly. However, he said, the NFML had 22
dealers in the province (in June 2003, there were
211 such dealers in the province).
The government has deregulated fertiliser imports
and its prices. But it needs to revive provincial
quotas, restore provincial supply organisations in
the public sector. The general sales tax on all
fertiliser products will have to be waived off.
The NFML should also open bulk stores in central and
southern parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa like those in
Punjab and Sindh. This would facilitate the
distribution system. It should also increase its
coverage to more areas and assign dealership in
other districts and Fata.
The federal government had decided to offer the
commodity to farmers through farm services centres
but limited membership, insufficient outlets and
lack of money with the bodies killed the initiative
in the bud. To improve distribution of fertilisers,
the bodies need to have more membership and more
funds,” argued a farmer from Charsadda.
In areas where there are no farm services centres,
district offices of the agriculture department
should serve as provisional centres for fertilizers
sales. Direct sales of the commodity to farmers have
also been exploited by influentials. To check
black-marketing and smuggling of fertilisers, daily
reporting of quantity details to the district
coordination officers should be ensured.
Courtesy: The DAWN