Bowing to private players, govt restores old urea distribution ratio - ECAS Punjab

Bowing to private players, govt restores old urea distribution ratio

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Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2

Succumbing to the pressure of private fertiliser traders, the Punjab Government has rolled back its orders to allocate 80 per cent urea to cooperative societies.

The government has now issued fresh orders, stating that "Since the normalisation of supplies of urea, the original ratio of distribution between the private and cooperative sector be restored."

The original orders, a copy of which is with The Tribune, were issued in September, just before the farmer agitation gathered steam. The orders clearly specify that 80 per cent of the urea that arrives in the state will have to be allocated to the 3,500 odd cooperative societies for sale to farmers. However, after rail services were resumed last week, the new orders were issued by the Chief Minister, who also heads the Agriculture Department, on November 28, reversing the earlier orders. Though the ratio of distribution is not specified, the precedence is to distribute maximum urea through private traders.

At a time when farmers have faced urea shortage throughout last month because of the 'rail roko' stir, the orders weighing heavily in favour of private traders have raised many eyebrows.

The orders do not augur well for farmers as the private traders not only sell the urea at higher rates but also saddle the farmers with sulphur, wheat seeds and other slow selling agro chemicals as a precondition to selling urea. Farmers can also get urea on loan from societies, unlike private distributers. The manufacturers, too, prefer private traders as retail partners rather than the cooperative societies as their profit margins are better.

It may be noted that about 13.50 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of urea is required in the Rabi season for 35 lakh hectares under wheat and 6 lakh hectares under other crops, like oil seeds, potato, maize etc.

Punjab Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said the orders to restore the original ratio for distribution of urea were issued by the Agriculture Department. "But I have had detailed meetings and issued orders today that 70 per cent of the urea will have to be distributed through cooperative societies only to assuage fears that the private traders could hoard the urea and create artificial shortages to maximise profits," he added.

from The Tribune

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