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Farm sector wilts for want of fertilizer

E.M. Manoj
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Acute shortage of fertilizers has put farmers in Wayanad district in a fix.

The second crop, known as ‘Nanja,' was planted three weeks ago in 13,000 hectares spread over 600 ‘padasekharams' in the district. Fertilizers such as muriate of potash, suphala and factomphos are not available in the market for past two months, according to P. Wilson, secretary of Armad-Murani Padashakhara Samiti in the district, said.

“This is the time to apply the first dose of fertilizer to rice and banana crop, third dose to coffee and tea, and third and fourth dose to ginger and turmeric,” he said. Farmers say that in the open market, fertilizer merchants were charging Rs.80 to Rs.95 more for a 50-kg bag for all fertilizers, except urea.

Dealers said the companies had been delivering fertilizers to their doorsteps at wholesale rate for the past three years. “But now, free delivery has been stopped and we are forced to purchase fertilizers from the company offices in Kozhikode,” C. Raveendran of the Wayanad Fertilizer Dealers Association said. Though the companies had hiked the price of fertilizers by nearly 45 per cent, they were yet to print the revised prices on the bags, he added.

“We cannot sell at the printed price since we have to pay a huge amount for transport too,” Benny Joseph, general secretary of the organisation, said.

Farmers fear that fertilizer shortage will adversely affect the crops next year. P. Vikraman, Principal Agriculture Officer told The Hindu that the quarterly requirement of factomphos in the district was 910 tonnes and of muriate of potash was 1,100 tonnes. But allotment of factomphos from the Central pool to the district was just 161 tonnes for that period. Moreover, after the price of muriate of potash was raised in the international market a few weeks go, the supply of the fertilizer in the State had been drastically cut. But, the issue would be solved soon, he added.

Dealers' fast

Meanwhile, the dealers' association has decided to stage a fast in front of the Telephone Exchange here on Thursday demanding that the Central government find a solution to the dearth of fertilizers in the district.

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