L. Renganathan

As import subsidy is yet to be fixed

KARUR: Farmers in the region fear that there might be a shortage of input muriate of potash as the Central Government has so far not fixed the import subsidy for the wholly-imported commodity for the second and third quarters of the current financial year. This has forced handling agencies to delay orders for shipments. They want the State Government to take up the issue with the Centre and find an immediate solution as more than 10,000 tonnes of potash is required over the next two months for farmers in Karur, Tiruchi and Perambalur districts.

Potash is vital manure for paddy, sugarcane, banana and betel vine, all raised in the region.

Potash is the most important input for basal application. Especially for paddy, potash is needed along with urea or nitrogen inputs for top dressing. Application of the right quantum of potash would ensure adequate grain weight, number of grains, sheen of the grain, growth of banana fingers, the distance between the bunches, their quality, weight and colour, say agricultural experts.

While samba paddy sowing under direct irrigation in the Karur region would begin next week, it has already started in garden lands and those under well irrigation. Nursery raised paddy crop requires top dressing of potash by the first week of September. Almost every field irrespective of the crop, requires potash immediately, points out the convenor of the Kulithalai Farmers Discussion Group, A.V. Gopaladesikan.

Now the agricultural experts recommend three basal applications of potash for cane and banana and how could the farmers meet the increasing demand when already there is no availability for the past one month, he wonders. One other problem is that there is no substitute for potash as even the bio potash has not been certified by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

Enquiries with fertilizer dealers reveal that a short supply existed for well over one month and there is now nil supply in the region. Farmers did not feel the pinch last month as only now farm activities picked up here, they observe. Further enquiries revealed that the dealers were pressured into buying an equal quantity of Di Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) for every purchase of potash. Unfortunately, the cost of DAP is twice that of potash while its usage is just one third of potash.

The current scarcity might lead to circulation of duplicate potash in the market.