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Rising cost of fertilizers clouds hopes of farmers

S.Ganesan
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62,500 hectares to be covered during samba, thaladi season

no unwanted elements: A farmer removing weeds in his field near Tiruchi. — Photo:M.Moorthy
no unwanted elements: A farmer removing weeds in his field near Tiruchi. — Photo:M.Moorthy

Even as samba and thaladi paddy cultivation is underway in the district, farmers have been hit hard by the sharp rise in the prices of fertilizers. The Agriculture Department expects paddy to be raised in about 62,500 hectares (ha) during the samba and thaladi seasons in the district this year. So far transplantation has been completed in about 20,000 ha.

Given the prevailing conducive conditions, with the relatively good storage position at the Mettur dam and the widespread rains over the past few days, Agriculture Department officials are confident that the target would be achieved this year. But farmers of the district are a worried lot owing to the rising inputs. The sharp rise in the prices of fertilizers has come as a shocker.

The Centre's decision to go in for nutrient based subsidy is cited as the major reason for the variance in the price of fertilizers of different companies. The rise in the cost of the imported raw materials for phosphatic fertilizers has contributed to price fluctuations, official sources said.

“There has been a heavy increase in the price of potash, di-ammonium phosphate and NP 20:20:0 complex fertilizer and our input costs have gone up sharply this season,” said R.Subramanian, a farmer of Koundampatti near Tiruchi and deputy secretary of the District Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association. The increase in fertilizer prices has pushed up the cost of cultivation further. But the procurement price of paddy has not increased correspondingly and farmers could face losses, said Mr.Subramanian.

According to farmers, the price of potash has steadily increased from about Rs.270 for a 50-kg bag to touch the current price of Rs.560 over the past one year. The price of DAP has increased from Rs.450 a bag to Rs.925 now. The fertilizer price differs from company to company. DAP from some of the companies is available at around Rs.750 to Rs.800, said P.Ayyakannu, state vice president, Bharathiya Kisan Sangh. Given the demand, some private shops were selling the fertilizer anywhere between Rs.600 and Rs.700. Apart from the price of fertilizer, wages have also gone up steadily but the procurement price of paddy still remains unremunerative, he said.

Farmers say the price of 20:20:0, another basal fertilizer, now rules at around Rs.740 a bag. The fertilizer was selling at around Rs.450 a bag during the previous season, they say.

Some farmers also complained that there was a shortage of potash. However, enquiries with Agriculture Department revealed that a consignment of about 1,500 tonnes of potash has arrived in the district recently and moved to the societies and retail outlets. The sources said about 1,000 tonnes have been moved to cooperative societies and nearly 300 tonnes were given to private traders. There was also some buffer stock available and another consignment of the fertilizer was expected to arrive soon, the sources said.

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