Rising demand, import costs result in shortage of fertilisers in Kerala

Kerala farming sector is witnessing a serious shortage of fertilisers in the wake of the rising cost of feedstock for fertiliser production as well as spiralling cost of imported raw materials like ammonia, phosphoric acid, rock phosphate, sulphuric acid, potash, and sulphur. Sources in the fertiliser industry said that the cost of major feedstock like natural gas had doubled over a period of one year. The price of natural gas is continuing to rise with the onset of winter and the rising demand for heating purposes in most parts of Europe.

Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT) sources said that the public sector company was quite on target as far as production was concerned. There was a slight lag in production in some of the areas but there would be no serious shortage. Production of Factamfos, the most popular brand of mixed fertiliser in South India, is on target despite the rise in the cost of raw materials.

At the same time, the country as a whole is seeing a shortage of imported items like muriate of potash, potash and diammonium phosphate with significant rise in the cost. The shortage has also been augmented by disruptions in shipping trade, sources added.

FACT sources said that the price of natural gas had hovered around $7 last year. It has now gone up over $13 and the spot price of gas was even higher. FACT produces around eight lakh tonnes of Factamfos a year. It is learnt that Kerala requires around one lakh tonnes of urea per year, around 70,000 tonnes of potash, and 1.2 lakh tonnes of composite fertilisers a year. The total consumption is in the range of three lakh tonnes a year while States like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu require much larger volumes. Andhra Pradesh requires around 14 lakh tonnes of urea a year while Tamil Nadu needs around eight lakh tonnes a year.

A fertiliser distributor and farmer Joseph Karukappally said there could be diversion of urea for industrial purposes. This could be one of the reasons for the shortage witnessed by various sectors, including small farmers. Sources in the department of agriculture said that cases of diversion would be looked into and action would be taken to prevent malpractices as urea is a significantly subsidised farm input.

Veteran pineapple farmer Baby John in Muvattupuzha said that there was a serious shortage of fertilisers even as the season to apply fertilisers in the orchards was drawing to a close.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 3:44:12 AM |

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