THE cultivation of wheat crop is around the corner. Farmers are harvesting rice and sugarcane crops after which they will sow wheat. The wheat crop requires fertiliser to meet the essential require-ment of nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur. Farmers use urea fertiliser to get higher yield per acre. Unfortunately, the availability of this fertiliser has become a dream for the farmers.
The rates of urea fertiliser have started soaring again due to the artificial shortage that is created by the mafia ahead of every season. Its supply chain is being disrupted by hoarding and smuggling. The basic rates set by the government are Rs2,150 and Rs7,800 for urea and diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertiliser, but these are being sold for Rs5,000 and Rs14,000, respectively. The same mafia manoeuvres sugarcane prices against the interest of the farmers, who simply cannot escape the manipulators because the exploitative mafia includes the forces that are supposed to control it.
Farmers, being producers, are the nation’s food heroes, and are directly linked to our food security. They have toiled hard during Covid and the post-pamemic period to meet the country’s food needs. They have no voice in society. They hardly hold any protest or a rally for their rights. They are too busy working the fields.
Farmers are already facing tough conditions, like inflated electricity bills, costly fuel, high rates of leased lands, unavailability of water, and environmental hazards. Resultantly, the cost of production has increased and profits have shrunk.
The federal government must ensure continuous and consistent availability of fertiliser to the farmers. Administrative activism by the larger bureaucratic setup can surely reduce this gap by controlling the exploitative behaviour of the middle man.
The government must also provide continuous gas supply to the fertiliser industry. The evil of hoarding and smuggling should be eliminated completely.
Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2023