Thursday, 9 December, 2021

Farmers likely to face fertiliser shortage for winter crops


By Laxman Kafle
Kathmandu, Oct. 24: Farmers may face fertiliser shortage even in winter crops due to the inability of the authorities to manage needed fertilisers in a timely manner.
The season for planting winter crops, including mustard, wheat and potatoes has started across the country, but there is no management for the adequate availability of chemical fertilisers required for winter crops till date, said the officials.

However, targeting winter crops, chemical fertilisers imported by the Agriculture Inputs Company Limited (AICL) have been entering from both the northern and southern borders in recent days.
According to Rajendra Bahadur Karki, information officer at AICL, around 70,000 tonnes of fertilisers, including 40,000 urea and 30,000 DAP purchased by the company have begun to enter Nepal.
The AICL had ordered 15,000 tonnes of chemical fertiliser through the Silk Transport, 30,000 tonnes urea through the Swiss-Singapore and 2,5000 tonnes DAP through the Indian Potash Limited (IPL) for winter crops, he said.

About 15,000 tonnes of fertiliser, including 10,000 tonnes urea and 5,000 tonnes DAP, were imported from the northern border. Urea fertiliser has started to arrive in different districts, including Kathmandu Valley and surrounding districts.
He said that the fertilisers entered from Tatopani customs would be distributed in three districts of Kathmandu Valley along with Kavrepalanchowk, Sindhupalchowk, Sindhuli, Dolakha and Dhading districts.
He said that all the urea fertiliser entering from Tatopani customs would arrive within a week and the remaining 5,000 tonnes of DAP would start to arrive shortly.

Likewise, 30,000 tonnes of urea fertiliser supplied by the Swiss-Singapore has also started to enter Nepal via the southern border. However, it is yet to be confirmed when the 25,000 tonnes of DAP supplied by the IPL will arrive.
He said that the present scenario of import of fertilisers would not meet the demand of fertilisers required for winter crops.
Around 100,000 tonnes of fertiliser will be shortfall for the winter crops, as of the at least 170,000 tonnes of fertilisers required for the winter crops, only around 70,000 tonnes has been assured till date.
The fertilisers in the public enterprises – AICL and STC – have already gone out of stock almost a month ago.

The AICL and STC have been importing fertilisers and distributing them to the farmers at a subsidised rate through cooperatives across the country.
Karki said that the AICL had started the process of importing around 155,000 tonnes of fertilisers from the budget of current fiscal year. From the budget allocated for the AICL, around 300,000 tonnes of fertilisers are expected to be purchased this year.

The government has allocated a budget of Rs. 15 billion for the purchase of chemical fetilisers for the current fiscal year. Out of this, the AICL receives 70 per cent and the STC 30 per cent of total allocation for fertilisers.
He said that it was a must for the government, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development to take initiative immediately to purchase fertilisers through G2G basis to address the possible shortage of fertilisers for winter crops.

Karki said, “The increase in the international price of chemical fertilisers has caused problems in the supply of fertilisers in Nepal. When bidding, the contractors do not accept it. Fifteen tenders have been canceled and only one has been accepted. There is still a long way to go.”
Information officer of Salt Trading Corporation Kumar Rajbhandari said that fertilisers imported by the STC were on the way and would begin arriving in Nepal soon.

"Around 100,000 tonnes of fertilisers, including 75,000 urea and 25,000 DAP, were in the pipeline to be imported through various contractors," he said, adding "There is no fixed delivery date so far."
He claimed that about 25,000 tonnes of urea fertilisers transported by the IPL had been arriving at Dhamra Port, India, for several days but that they could not enter Nepal without Indian official consent.
The government had allowed the STC to bring in 50,000 tonnes of urea from the fast track, but the fertilisers have yet to arrive.

According to Rajbhandari, the 50,000 tonnes of urea transported by the Joshi Biz was also in the pipeline, because the contractor has not been able to deliver. It cites COVID-19 as a reason for not being able to provide fertilisers on time.
He, however, said that they were making an effort to import fertilisers in pipeline at the earliest to overcome the possible shortage for winter crops.