Saturday, 6 March, 2021
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EDITORIAL

A Gesture Of Goodwill



In what may be a gesture of goodwill, Bangladesh has responded positively to Nepal's request for supplying 50,000 metric tons of urea fertiliser for urgent purpose. Farmers in Nepal are in dire need of chemical fertilisers for the current crop season. The supply of fertilisers makes a difference to the production of crops. Since the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) was unable to import the fertilisers even during the peak crop plantation season due to the coronavirus lockdowns in Nepal and India, the government was exploring various possibilities to solve the existing shortage of fertilisers. As part of the government's efforts, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli Tuesday called on his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina Wazed to help Nepal by supplying the essential agricultural input. The response of the Bangladeshi leader is quite encouraging. The two leaders had a telephone conversation. As requested by Nepal, Bangladesh will supply 50,000 tonnes of urea on refundable basis.
PM Oli said that Nepal could benefit from Bangladesh's success story in the field of agriculture. He also thanked his Bangladeshi counterpart for providing a new railway route through Rohanpur (Bangladesh) to Singabad (India) railway line, and supplying 5,000 vials of Remdesivir and other essential medicines. The two leaders exchanged views on various issues of common interests ranging from power generation, grid connectivity and power supply from Nepal to Bangladesh, promotion of barrier-free and balanced trade between the two nations to improved transit facility.
Needless to say, the scarcity of chemical fertilisers in Nepal has been a recurring issue in every crop season over the years. The country requires an estimated 700,000-800,000 metric tons of fertilisers annually. But the government has been supplying only about 400,000 metric tonnes annually. This is the reason why production of major crops is not as anticipated. With the scarcity of fertilisers looming large this year as well, many farmers in the areas bordering with India have been found smuggling the fertilisers across the frontier. But the farmers are forced to pay extra money for the smuggled the plant food. This has also increased the trepidation for the transmission of the coronavirus.
However, as per the MoALD, around 71,500 tonnes of fertilisers being imported to distribute during this paddy plantation period has remained stuck at Kolkata Port and Kandla Port in Gujrat of India. Of the total quantity, 50,000 tonnes of Urea imported by the Agriculture Inputs Company Limited has been stuck in Kolkata while the remaining 21,500 tonnes (imported by Salt Trading Company Limited) has been trapped in Kandla for some months. In the meantime, about 2,500 tonnes of Urea that had stuck at the Kolkata Port for the last couple of months arrived in Birgunj recently. The fertiliser is being dispatched to 19 different districts. The MoALD is said to have aimed at distributing about 450,000 tonnes of fertilisers to the farmers at a subsidised rate of Rs. 700 for a 50-kg sack this year. But the plan is unlikely to materialise, leaving the farmers distressed. The tendency of not supplying the fertilisers in one pretext or the other must end. The farmers should not have faced such an acute shortage of essential agriculture input had the authorities concerned taken necessary steps to import it on time. 

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