PESHAWAR: The tribal area farmers hit hard by militancy are facing another monetary setback as the renewal of a ban on different types of fertilisers may deprive them of a good yield this season.
Officials said the local authorities on the military’s directives had placed a complete ban on the transportation of different types of fertilisers to three of the seven tribal agencies, including Kurram, Bajaur and Mohmand.
The fresh ban on the movement of three types of fertilisers, including urea, ammonium nitrate and diammonium phosphate, was imposed for Kurram Agency in Nov 2015.
Local farmers said the authorities took the decision at a time when their wheat, potato and other crops needed a boost the most.
An official told Dawn that the Corps Headquarters Peshawar had slapped a ban on the reports that ammonium was filtered from different types of fertilisers.
He said there were reports that ammonium was used in the making of improvised explosive devices, the ‘hidden killer’ largely used by militants against security forces and civilians in the militancy-ravaged region.
Official says a mechanism being developed to ensure lawful use of fertilisers
“The Peshawar corps headquarters had issued directives to the authorities concerned to restrict the movement of fertilisers to Kurram, Mohmand and Bajaur Agency immediately,” he said.
The official said the quarters concerned were preparing a mechanism to ensure the lawful use of fertilisers in the area.
Before the withdrawal of Nato forces from neighbouring Afghanistan, Pakistan was under pressure to check the transportation of fertilisers to its tribal areas, which they believed used by the Taliban militants in IEDs.
Last year, the World Food Programme in its biannual report had declared several areas of severely food insecure.
Another official said the ban on transportation of fertilisers for Bajaur Agency was imposed in 2009.
He said the civil secretariat Fata had worked out a plan to sell fertilisers to the certified dealers through Frontier Corps, but that facility was later withdrawn.
He said diammonium phosphate which was earlier exempted from the ban had been included in the banned item list after conducting chemical examination.
Sources said farmers in Bajaur Agency were bringing fertilisers through from adjacent areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through unfrequented routes. Same is the situation in Mohmand Agency.
Bajaur and Kurram are the major agricultural agencies in Fata and majority of the local residents is dependent on farming.
According to the directorate of agriculture, 80 per cent of the population in Kurram Agency earn livelihood from farming.
Haji Rauf, an authorised dealer in Parachinar, told Dawn by phone that the trucks loaded with fertilisers were stopped in Thall area adjacent to the Kurram Agency on Nov 20.
He said local officials told dealers that action was taken on the directives of the Peshawar corps headquarters.
The dealer said the total fertiliser requirement of Kurram Agency was 415,980 bags per year and that the directorate of agriculture had found it through a survey.
“Farmers need to use urea and ammonium nitrate on wheat and potato crops in Feb to get a good yield,” he said, adding that growers have been pushed from pillar to post in the town to get fertilisers.
Mr. Haji Rauf said it would be useless to use urea and ammonium nitrate on crops after Feb.
He said the Frontier Corps had been deployed in the Kurram Agency areas bordering Afghanistan to stop illegal transportation of fertilisers.
The dealer said the security forces had restored peace in the agency.
He said no incident of IED blast had taken place against the law-enforcement agencies in both the upper and lower subdivisions of Kurram Agency.
Haji Rauf said the government should develop a legal mechanism for the utilisation of fertilisers and that dealers and farmers were ready to cooperate with it on it.
He appealed to Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to order the lifting of the ban to enable farmers to apply fertilisers on proper time and warned if that didn’t happen, then the militancy-stricken people would suffer from food deficiency.
Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2016