Short on fertilisers, state stares at bigger agri crisis - ECAS Punjab

Short on fertilisers, state stares at bigger agri crisis

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Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12

Punjab could be staring at a much bigger crisis in its agrarian economy, if it does not get the much-needed fertilisers for the wheat crop immediately. As farmers stare at a severe shortage, in the wake of suspension of rail services in the state and rakes of fertilisers stuck outside, they are resorting to desperate measures to ensure a steady supply.

From buying urea at much higher rates (Rs 325-350 per kg against cost of Rs 265) to rushing to neighbouring states of Haryana and Rajasthan, farmers are desperately trying to ensure that their wheat crop is cultivated successfully.

The state immediately needs huge quantities of urea and diammonium phosphate (DAP) for the wheat crop, sowing of which has already started. Wheat is expected to be cultivated on almost 35 lakh hectares in the state. Punjab needs almost 19 lakh quintals of DAP and 8 lakh tonnes of urea for this wheat season. “DAP is used at the time of sowing, while urea is to be applied three weeks after sowing — from next week onwards,” says JS Mahal, Director, Extension, Punjab Agriculture University.

Agriculture experts warn that the delay in the use of fertilisers for the wheat crop could adversely impact its yield. If the fertilisers are not made available immediately, the low wheat yield will have a spiraling effect on the state’s agriculture-based economy, which has already been hit hard by the Covid-induced lockdown.

Anirudh Tiwari, Financial Commissioner, Development, also conducted a meeting today to assess the fertiliser situation. Agriculture Commissioner BS Sidhu told The Tribune if the train services were not resumed immediately, the state farming operations would be adversely hit. “We are holding parleys with the Railway Board, urging them to concede to the state government’s demand for allocating rakes of fertilisers at the earliest,” he said.

Though over 57,000 metric tonnes of urea is available in the state — at the two plants of National Fertilizers Limited in Bathinda and Ropar — there is panic among farmers as sowing of wheat has already started. The urea from these plants is being supplied rather slowly, because of the rail services being suspended and low availability of trucks, which are currently engaged in transporting paddy from the mandis. Against a daily demand of 3,000 metric tonnes, only one-third is actually being supplied to the market.

from The Tribune

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