On fertilizer crisis
Sunday, 20 July 2008

Fertilizer shortage has been a regular feature in almost every peak planting season over the past 18 months . As has been pointed out and proved before, one of the major reasons for the crunch has been the absence of a sensible coordination between relevant agencies and timely distribution so that farmers get what they need during the peak cultivation season. According to the report, non-urea fertilisers, namely triple super phosphate, di-ammonium phosphate and muriate of potash, are not available in sufficient quantity at the field level. These fertilisers are crucial for developing plant resistance to such diseases as bacterial leaf blight and leaf streak. Here it is pertinent to recall that a substantial acreage of paddy contracted these diseases in the past boro season because of non-availability of phosphate and potash. The current mismatch between the requirement and availability once again points to the lack of planning and coordination of the relevant departments responsible for fertiliser allotment and distribution. It should be pointed out here that farmers have genuine complaints about fertiliser distribution system being overly complicated and bureaucratic and altogether unpredictable, to such an extent that they end up wasting several valuable man days to collect what often turns out to be meagre quantities of fertilisers. Additionally, this year the prices have more than doubled than last year. In this regard, the incumbents need to seriously look into the possibility of making small loan packages more easily available to farmers without irregularities or corruption. It is alleged that farmers often end up spending up to 40 per cent of the loans on kickbacks and bribes for bank officials.

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