By Saleem Shaikh
February 12, 2011
KARACHI, Feb 11: Representatives of farmers of Sindh have complained of shortage of agriculture inputs which has caused an abnormal hike in their prices and black-marketing by unscrupulous traders.
The officials in the provincial agriculture department refute the claims.
According to leaders of farmers’ associations, severe shortage of inputs has affected Rabi sowing. They said if the shortage persisted, it would have serious implications for the Kharif sowing as well.
“Reduced use of the urea fertiliser and DAP by farmers as a result of shortages and escalation in prices during Rabi season will cause decline in per acre yield,” said Dr Nadeem Qamar, president of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA).
Sindh Abadgar Board president Abdul Majeed Nizamani said that the urea fertiliser prices had escalated by nearly 23 per cent in the past two months.
The sudden hike in fertiliser prices was bound to lead to decline in production of Rabi crops, particularly wheat, between 20 and 30 per cent of the total production, he said.
“In December last year, a fertiliser bag of 50 kg was selling at Rs850. But, at present it is being sold at Rs1,200 on black. There are also reports of fertiliser being sold at Rs1,250 per bag in some upper Sindh districts. Besides, DAP prices have also increased by Rs150 to Rs200 per 50kg bag in the past two months. At present, a DAP bag is selling at Rs3,200, which sold at Rs3,100 to Rs3,150 in December last year,” he said.Sindh requires around 552,063 tons urea fertiliser and 196,000 tons DAP for Rabi sowing.
According to latest figures of the agriculture department, till Dec 31 last year some 268,845.560 tons of urea fertiliser has been supplied to local traders by some prominent fertiliser manufacturing companies to meet needs of the province’s Rabi crops.
Statistical data about DAP supplies could not be made available by the provincial agriculture department.
Mohammad Arif Khairi, deputy secretary of agriculture, said that supplies of urea fertiliser and DAP for the Rabi crops from manufacturers has remained smooth and there was no disruption from them throughout the Rabi season.
He did not rule out what he described ‘an artificial shortage’ by some profiteers who also manipulate prices in local markets, who sell farm inputs much above the prices set by the government.
Nabi Bux, additional general secretary of the SCA, alleged the dealers and fertiliser manufacturers took benefit of the prevailing situation of the fertiliser and DAP and earned millions of rupees in profit in a matter of a few months by creating the artificial shortage.