Bihar: Long Queues at Fertiliser Dealer Shops as Farmers Scramble to Save Rabi Crop
not releasing required supplies.
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Patna: After sowing rabi crops, mainly wheat and maize, thousands of farmers have been struggling for urea and DAP (di-ammonium phosphate) across Bihar due to inadequate supply and lack of availability at designated fertiliser dealer shops, triggering anger and protests. This is contrary to the BJP-led Central government’s claim in Parliament of no shortage of fertiliser.
In fact, Bhagwanth Khuba, Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertiliser, told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that the availability of
DAP was “comfortable”.
Against the requirement of 55.38 lakh tonne for the ongoing rabi (winter) season of the 2022-23 crop year (July-June), the availability was 47.88 lakh tonne till December 14, he said in his written reply to the Upper House.
However, Kedar Nath Singh, a marginal farmer of Tirkauliya in East Champaran told NewsClick said: “It is wrong to claim that there is no shortage of fertiliser. Hundreds of farmers in East Champaran district have been spending nights under open sky near fertiliser shops since the last three days but to no avail. One cannot imagine how farmers, including men and women, are facing the cold at night by covering themselves with a blanket.It is a pathetic situation”.
Ravibhusan Prasad of Areraj, a small farmer in East Champaran, agreed with this.”Ignoring the cold night, several farmers sleep in open just for ensuring their early turn in line for getting fertiliser. Hundreds gather since early morning daily to stand in a queue and most of them have to return disappointed.”
Angry over fertiliser shortage and blackmarketing, hundreds of farmers on Monday staged a dharna under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti at Patahi block headquarters. “We have been demanding action against blackmarketing of fertiliser by dealers but the local administration is doing nothing apart from only assuring us.”said Sanjit Tiwari of Sangrampur block.
Tiwari, another marginal farmer, said if there is shortage of fertiliser, dealers will sell it at a high rate.”Many farmers in the
past couple of days had purchased three to five sacks of fertilisers at a higher price from the black market as they had no other option. To save their crop, they have to spray urea now or crops will be damaged”, he said.
There were reports of farmers running from one place to another and queuing up for over five to eight hours daily for fertiliser in
Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Purnea, Saharsa, Bhojpur, Samastipur, Munger, Siwan and other districts.
At several places in these districts in the past week, farmers have been protesting against shortage and soaring black market of
Ram Babu Rai, a farmer of Bandra block in Muzaffarpur, said dealers had been selling a sack of urea for Rs 500-600, which is about Rs 200 to 300 more than the fixed government rate of Rs 266. “Farmers are helpless,” he added. Protests by angry farmers were also reported in Muzaffarpur during the past 24 hours. They blocked state highway 74 at Vishnipur Sariya chowk
for hours and shouted slogans. While All India Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sanghathan took out a protest march in Maniyari.
A district administrative official admitted to NewsClick that shortage of urea was “real” due to lower supply than demand. Muzaffarpur requires 37,774 tonnes urea by end of December but so far it received 18,477 tonnes urea. “Lower supply than the demand has created a crisis for farmers.Taking advantage of this, some people have been blakmarketing it,” he added.
Muzaffarpur district Agriculture Officer Shilajeet Singh admitted that farmers were facing difficulty in getting fertiliser and he had
received complaints of blackmarketing at a few places. “We expect supply of more fertiliser in coming days,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bihar Agriculture Minister Kumar Sarvajeet blamed the Central government for inadequate supply and for shortage of urea in the state.
“The Central government has been discriminating against Bihar by not providing the required quota of fertiliser. We are facing acute shortage of urea. Till November 18, Bihar received only 37% supply of urea against the requirement. The state needed 2.55 lakh tonnes of urea by December 15 for wheat crop. How can the Centre supply remaining 63% now? Similarly, the state requires 1.22 lakh tonnes of DAP but it got 70% of it.”
However, Bharatiya Janata Party state president Sanjay Jaiswal refuted the Sarvajeet’s claim, saying there was no shortage of fertiliser, as in the case in Bihar. “The Bihar government has been lying on supply, availability and stock of fertilisers”, he alleged.
According to agriculture scientists at the Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University in Pusa, Samastipur district, the use of
fertilisers, including urea, DAP and potash, in Bihar has been increasing with farmers desperate to produce more. Bihar is one of the leading paddy-producing states. In 2019-20, the state was the biggest user of fertilisers at about 245.25 kg/hectare.
According to state government figures, agriculture is the backbone of Bihar's economy, employing 81% of the workforce and generating nearly 42% of the state's gross domestic product. About 76% of Bihar's population is dependent on agriculture for livelihood.
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