Though blessed with abundant rains, the new paddy season has been hit by a shortage of supply of mixed fertilisers and a steep rise in their prices.
The price of Factamfos (ammonium phosphate sulphate) from Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT) has gone up from Rs.480 per 50 kg bag last year to Rs.900 a bag now, said a farmer based in Palakkad.
He said the supply of the mixed fertiliser, a favourite with farmers across South India, has been short since May. Though the supply situation had eased a bit, it was the rise in price that posed problems to farmers, he said.
Sources in the public sector fertiliser company here said a severe shortage of phosphoric acid had resulted in FACT cutting Factamfos production by nearly half at its Kochi and Udyogamandal divisions.
Company sources said sale of the mixed fertilisers, a major source of revenue, had been brisk over the past few months with a total of 35,000 tonnes having been sold in South India till early June.
Factamfos is a wide spectrum fertiliser used in paddy and sugar cane cultivation. Sales have been high in Kerala and Karnataka where the rains have been abundant, sources said.
The normal Factamfos production is more than 1,500 tonnes a day. However, the shortage of phosphoric acid had resulted to production being curtailed to around 1,000 tonnes a day. FACT has two facilities for Factamfos production — the Udyogamandal division with a capacity of 500 tonnes a day and the Kochi division with a capacity of 1,200 tonnes a day.
Meanwhile, Palakkad district, where paddy is a key crop, has seen heavy rains inundating around 100 hectares in Alathur and Kuzhalamannam areas. Paddy sowing picked up quickly from June 1 with total sown area going up to more than 17,000 hectares in the third week of June. The district had a total of 48,000 hectares cultivated under Virippu paddy last season.