ISLAMABAD: As wheat-growing areas are facing urea shortages despite 11 per cent higher production, the Fertiliser Review Committee on Monday directed the interior ministry to check if the fertiliser is being smuggled to Afghanistan due to a massive price differential between the locally manufactured and the imported urea.
Chairing the committee meeting Minister for Industries and Production Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar directed that provincial authorities carry out vigilant border monitoring to avoid inter-provincial supplies anomalies and rationalise urea supplies as per the wheat production in the districts.
He also directed the manufacturers to check their Punjab-based dealers whether they were supplying urea to their counterparts in other provinces. The committee also decided that all the vehicles involved in inter-provincial movement needed to have active tracker systems to locate the exact movement of the trucks.
The fertiliser industry assured the committee of operating the manufacturing units at full capacity to meet the monthly needs of soil nutrients during the ongoing rabi season.
However, the manufacturers welcomed the committee’s actions that have brought down urea prices to around Rs1,800 and Rs1,900 per bag from Rs2,500 to Rs2,800 at the start of the current month. “Timely action by the government has ensured adequate availability and a significant reduction in urea prices which have come close to the prescribed rate of Rs1,768,” Imran Ahmed, CFO Engro Fertiliser, said representing the manufacturers.
He added that black marketing and profiteering by hoarders have largely been controlled due to restrictions on the movement of urea to non-wheat-producing areas.
He told the committee that the urea sales were high this year due to the agriculture-friendly policies and significantly lower prices.
The committee was informed that a record volume of 5.76 million tonnes was sold in the first 11 months of calendar 2021, which is 11pc higher than the same period last year. “It was unusual as urea consumption in India dropped by 5pc,” he added.
Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2021