As farmers keep paying more than Rs 1,200 for one bag of diammonium phosphate (DAP) — a key fertiliser in rabi season— amid a severe shortage, the government has been resorting to managing the negative publicity rather than improving supplies, farmer leaders say.
The delay in raising the subsidy for the imported fertiliser amid rising global prices has disrupted the normal arrival schedule which will be difficult to manage, an industry expert said. November is crucial sowing period for wheat when maximum area is covered and farmers need to have it before for its timely application, the expert said, adding there will be late sowing in many places.
While there is no problem in the availability of urea, complex (N, P, K, S) and Muriate of Potash (MOP) fertilisers, the main concern is over DAP, which is not available at many places, contrary to the government’s claims.
According to fertiliser ministry data, the availability of DAP was less than 10 lakh tonne against requirement of 17 lakh tonne for entire November.
The government has claimed that the availability was 23 lakh tonne against 18 lakh tonne of demand in October, which many farmer leaders have questioned amid continuing queue before fertiliser retail outlets. DAP is normally applied before planting.
Sowing of mustard has increased about 26% to 24.67 lakh hectares as on October 29 against year-ago period in the on-going rabi season. But chana acreage has declined 17% to 7.77 lakh hectares from year-ago. Wheat sowing has not even reached 1 lakh hectare. Total area under all winter crops has increased 2% at 43.29 lakh hectares.
Union chemicals and fertilisers minister Mansukh Mandaviya on November 1 appealed to farmers not to hoard fertilisers.
He said the government has been constantly monitoring production, imports and movement of fertilisers and adequate arrangements are in place to ensure that farmers get sufficient quantity.
While the demand of urea is 41 lakh tonne, the government will make sure 76 lakh tonne is available in November, Mandaviya said.
Similarly, 18 lakh tonne of DAP will be made available against a projected demand of 17 lakh tonne. Availability of 30 lakh tonne of NPK will surpass the demand of 15 lakh MT.
“It was never heard of earlier that a farmer had to commit suicide due to not getting fertiliser in Uttar Pradesh,” said Dharmendra Malik, spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union. The message has reached farmers that there is shortage of DAP and the long queue to get even one bag is enough proof to debunk the government’s claim, Malik said.
“Whatever the reason for the shortage, it is the government’s failure when farmers are buying DAP at Rs 1,400-1,600 a bag (of 50 kg) against its MRP of Rs 1,200,” Malik said and urged the government to ensure adequate availability this month.
The government on October 12 had approved an additional fertiliser subsidy of Rs 28,655 crore to insulate farmers from paying extra for the key farm input and to ensure adequate availability by easing the burden of fertiliser companies. With the additional subsidy, the total outgo on fertiliser will reach around Rs 1.23 lakh crore in FY22.
On June 16, the Centre had announced a Rs 14,775-crore additional subsidy over and above the BE as it increased the subsidy on DAP by 140% for the kharif season.
As the subsidy on fertilisers has been increased by 55% from the budget estimate (BE) of Rs 79,530 crore in current fiscal, the major factor for the steep hike is attributed by experts on the global price rise in phosphorous and potash. Gobal prices of DAP increased from $580/tonne to $672/tonne and that of MoP from $280/tonne to $445/tonne between July and September.
The government has set a target of 155.88 million tonne (MT) of foodgrains, including 110 MT of wheat and 15.18 MT of pulses. The target for rabi oilseeds has been fixed at 11.3 MT, which includes 10.2 MT of mustard.