Gujjar agitation affects supply of fertilizers

Nagesh Prabhu

Rail blockade delays arrivals from Gujarat and other States

State’s requirement of fertilizers for the 2008 kharif season is 20.77 lakh tonnes

State utilised 18.74 lakh tonnes of fertilizers during the last kharif season

BANGALORE: The Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan and other north Indian states has hit the supply of fertilizers to Karnataka, resulting in a shortage that has snowballed into a major agitation in which one farmer was killed in police firing in Haveri on Tuesday.

If the delay in the arrival of fertilizers from other parts of the country because of the blockade of railway tracks by agitating Gujjars is one reason for the shortage, purchase of fertilizers in large quantities by farmers in some districts where rains set in early and hoarding by some traders are others.

Officials in the Agriculture Department told The Hindu on Tuesday that that the rail blockade had delayed the arrival of fertilizers from Kandla Port in Gujarat and Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Ltd. (IFFCO) and Krishak Bharati Cooperative Ltd. (KRIBHCO) factories located in Gujarat and other north Indian States. Karnataka receives fertilizers from IFFCO and KRIBHCO units every year. Most of the rail traffic from the port town of Kandla and manufacturing units in Gujarat pass through Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The ongoing agitation has hit traffic on these lines.

Pre-monsoon showers in April and May in several parts of the State encouraged farmers to go in for sowing. Early sowing in Mysore, Mandya, Chikmagalur, Davangere and Hassan districts resulted in a sudden demand for fertilizers. The officials maintained that adequate quantity of fertilizers had been supplied to all districts, and there was no shortage of the input.

High-level meeting

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and Minister for Agriculture S.A. Ravindranath held a meeting on Tuesday to monitor the supply of fertilizers to various districts. About 1,000 tonnes of fertilizers was supplied to Haveri district on Tuesday amid tight security. Sufficient quantities have also been supplied to Hassan, Davangere and Dharwad districts.

The State’s requirement of fertilizers for the 2008 kharif season is 20.77 lakh tonnes: urea (eight lakh tonnes), diammonium phosphate (3.8 lakh tonnes), Muriate of Potash (3.3 lakh tonnes) and complex fertilizers (5.67 lakh tonnes).

The State has set a production target of 91.48 lakh tonnes of foodgrains from 74.73 lakh hectares in the kharif season. By the first week of June, crops had been sown on 2.58 lakh hectares.

From 2003-04 to 2007-08, the country’s consumption of urea has gone up by 25 per cent, DAP by 27 per cent and MOP by 41 per cent. The Centre’s subsidy for various types of fertilizers was in the range of 65 per cent to 80 per cent in 2008. Urea, which costs Rs. 26,000 a tonne, is being supplied to farmers at a subsidised price of Rs. 4,830 a tonne.

The corresponding figures for DAP are Rs. 51,123 and Rs. 9,350 and for MOP are Rs. 23,788 and Rs. 4,455. Complex fertilizers, which cost Rs. 35,943 a tonne, is being supplied at Rs. 8,050 a tonne on account of the subsidy provided by the Centre to manufacturers.

J.S. Sharma, Secretary, Union Department of Fertilizers, who reviewed the demand and supply position here last week, promised adequate and timely supplies of fertilizers to the State despite increased international prices and consumption. Mr. Sharma had promised to release 1.20 lakh tonnes of DAP and one lakh tonnes of complex fertilizers to the State in June.

The State utilised 18.74 lakh tonnes of fertilizers during the last kharif season.