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DAP shortage haunting farmers in Tirunelveli

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P. Sudhakar

Traders, exploiting situation, sell the fertilizer at an inflated price

TIRUNELVELI: Farmers in the district, who heaved sigh of relief after water was once again released from Papanasam dam on Monday for `kar' paddy cultivation, are in deep trouble now, as Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP), widely used for paddy cultivation, is not available in adequate quantities and the traders, seizing this opportunity, sell this fertilizer at a higher price.

Though the Department of Agriculture has set a target of distributing 6,340 tonnes of DAP to farmers during `kar' paddy season, only 1,260 tonnes have been distributed till June against the target of 2,000 tonnes, and now the stock stands at just 150 tonnes. Utilising this shortage, DAP is being sold at a higher price at Papanasam, Vickramasingapuram, Ambasamudram, Kallidaikurichi, Mukkoodal, Cheranmahadevi, Tirunelveli, Palayamkottai and other areas.

"A 50-kg bag of DAP, which was sold at Rs.486 previously, is being sold at Rs. 525. We have to shell out an additional Rs. 40 for every bag, which cannot be justified in anyway. Even at this inflated price, DAP is being sold by traders only to their regular customers and not others," fumed S. Natarajan, a farmer from Cheranmahadevi.

The reason behind the short supply is mainly because of the "unrealistic policies" being pursued by the Centre, says a top official of a fertilizer manufacturing company.

"Foreign companies, which export raw materials for a range of fertilizers to India, have already upwardly revised the price and the State-owned fertilizer manufacturing companies, which are already in doldrums, cannot absorb this unexpected burden. And production of fertilizers can be carried out only with raw materials being made available to us. Moreover, the companies cannot revise the fertilizer price, transportation cost etc on their own, as it is being decided by the people in power. Ultimately, due to less production, the farmers have to pay more though they cannot get adequate quantity. This is not a regional issue, but a nation-wide crisis," the official explained.

The other version

However, officials from Department of Agriculture paint a rosy picture, saying that there would not be any problems in getting DAP or any other fertilizers.

"We are closely monitoring the situation by frequently conducting meetings with representatives of fertilizer manufacturing units. Besides ensuring a daily supply of 45 tonnes of DAP from a private company at Tuticorin, we are taking efforts to augment the supply by roping in other companies also in the process so that farmers will not face any problem," said the Joint- Director, Department of Agriculture, M. Khader Mohideen, adding that action would be taken against traders selling fertilizer at higher prices.

However, farmers are not prepared to buy this assurance. Agriculturists, who were praying for abundant rain in catchment areas of major irrigation dams in the district and now getting adequate water for irrigation after the closed Papanasam dam was opened again thanks to significant precipitation, are keeping their fingers crossed. They are desperately waiting for ample supply of fertilizer, at the right time.

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