Acute fertiliser shortage hits paddy farming

By Laxman Kafle

paddyKathmandu, July. 6: Stocks of chemical fertilisers at the Agriculture Input Company Limited (AICL) and the Salt Trading Corporation (STC) will run out before the paddy plantation season reaches its peak due to government’s failure to provide additional budget in time.

As a result, the farmers are facing acute scarcity of chemical fertilisers during this paddy plantation season after the two government organisations failed to supply them fertilisers due to lack of required budget allocation by the government to import fertilsers, said officials at the AICL.
“The AICL is unable to distribute Diammonium phosphate (DAP) to the farmers. We have only 800 tonnes of DAP in our stock and farmers will not get the required fertilisers for the paddy plantation,” said Bishnu Prasad Pokharel, Information Officer at AICL.
He said that the AICL has 10,500 tonnes urea in its stock and around 10,000 tonnes is in the transit but this amount would not meet the demand.
Above 110,000 tonnes of urea and 50,000 tonnes of DAP are required for the paddy plantation, he said, adding that present stock of fertilisers could not meet the demand, Pokharel told The Rising Nepal.
Due to lack of budget allocation in time and the government’s delay in addressing AICL’s request to release additional budget of Rs. 3 billion, the present situation has arisen.
“In October last year, we had requested the concerned ministry to release additional budget to import fertilisers targeting the paddy plantation season this year. But the government released additional budget of Rs. 3 billion only in March,” he said. “It takes at least five months to complete process to import fertilisers, as such the farmers are not likely to get fertilisers this plantation season,” he said.
The government has allocated Rs. 6 billion to import chemical fertiliser in its budget of current fiscal year. The AICL and Salt Trading Corporation are importing chemical fertilisers to supply fertilisers to the farmers in subsidised rates. Out of the total budget, AICL gets 70 per cent funds and STC will get 30 per cent to import fertilisers.
The AICL and the Salt Trading Corporation were able to import only around 240,000 tonnes fertiliser this year from the budget allocated by the government.
AICL has imported 160,000 tonnes of fertilisers, including urea, DAP and potash from the budget for the current fiscal year, he said, adding that the AICL has already sold 242,000 tonnes of fertilisers including that of last year’s stock till the date.
“Both the institutions are distributing around 300,000 tonnes of chemical fertilisers from the budget allocation despite the annual demand of 800,000 tonnes,” Pokharel said. Apart from import by AICL and STC, some private business houses also import and sell fertilizers in the country. But they don’t sell in subsidized prices, forcing farmers to visit AICL and STC in large number.
Chief Executive Officer of STC Urmila Shrestha said that the STC had almost distributed the imported fertilisers from the budget allocated by the government.
“We have only 6,700 tonnes of fertilisers, including DAP and urea in stock at present,” she said.
She, however, said that the STC is importing around 20,000 tonnes of DAP and 20,000 tonnes of urea in the fast track considering the paddy plantation time. The fertilizer being imported through fast track has already arrived in Kolkata port, she added.
This amount will address some problems of paddy farmers during the current plantation season 

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