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Farmers complain of fertilizer scarcity

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on the job: Transplantation of Kuruvai paddy is in progress in Thanjavur district.
on the job: Transplantation of Kuruvai paddy is in progress in Thanjavur district.

Tiruchi Bureau

“The basal fertilizer requirement for core delta districts is about 20,000 tonnes”

TIRUCHI: Just as kuruvai cultivation is gaining momentum in delta districts, there have been widespread complaints of scarcity of fertilizers.

Though the timely release of water has raised farmers’ hopes, their biggest worry this season is the scarcity of basal fertilizers, especially Di-ammonium phosphate (DAP). The government has announced that it had already distributed over 22,000 tonnes of DAP, but the complaints persist.

Normally, about two lakh hectares (ha) are covered during the kuruvai season along the delta, of which nearly 1.11 lakh ha are in the core districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam. Thanjavur accounts for a major portion of this with 40,000 ha, followed by 36,000 ha in Tiruvarur, 35,000 ha in Nagapattinam and 6,000 ha in Tiruchi.

According to Agriculture Department officials, transplantation has been completed on 10,600 ha in Thanjavur district and 4000 ha in Tiruvarur district. Nurseries have been raised on 2600 ha each in the two districts. Farmers in the Mayiladuthurai belt in Nagapattinam district coming under Cauvery division command have raised the kuruvai paddy nurseries well in advance with the help of pumpsets. Farmers have already completed transplantation of kuruvai crop on about 15,000 ha and are hoping to cover another 5,000 ha in a week’s time.

“Our immediate requirement is DAP as a majority of farmers prefer it for basic application. The basal fertilizer requirement for core delta districts is about 20,000 tonnes. But the supply has not been adequate or has not reached farmers yet,” says Arupathi Kalyanam, secretary, Farmers Federation of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam Districts.

“We have been receiving complaints of DAP shortage from many parts of the delta. Though the government has done well to procure fertilizers in time this year, it should ensure proper and timely distribution to farmers who are in need,” says S. Renganathan, secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association.

Mr. Ranganathan says the scarcity could be largely artificial. There is profiteering among private traders who supply the fertilizer for credit to farmers, he says.

Farmers allege that DAP is sold at a premium in the open market – a 50-kg bag is reportedly quoted between Rs. 680 and 700 against the government price of Rs.486.

In many places, farmers who have not taken loans find it difficult to get the required quantum from cooperative societies. “Societies give priority to creditors and only the remaining stocks are distributed to others,” say R. Raja Chidambaram, Secretary, Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam.

Government officials, however, maintain that adequate stocks of fertilizers have been moved to the three districts and contend that the scarcity, if any, can only be artificial.

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