November 6, 2023
NEW DELHI – Black marketeers are creating an artificial crisis of chemical fertiliser and charging arbitrary prices these days causing severe inconvenience to the paddy and potato growers during the Kharif and on the eve of Ravi cultivations. Considering the gravity of the situation, the state agriculture department has convened a second meeting on the issue on 9 November.
A top official with the department told The Statesman: “On Wednesday, we forwarded a strong letter to Centre demanding immediate dispatch of pending fertiliser consignments for Bengal. If the supply doesn’t arrive on time, farmers may have to face a disastrous fate in certain highyielding districts here.” Bengal requires 1.75 lakh MT chemical fertilisers for November each year. The state currently has 54,000 MT in stock that arrived on last 26 October and the districts are being distributed from the warehouses, presently.
“The demand of 10:26:26 NPK (nitrogen phosphorus potassium) variety of fertilizer is quite higher than the DAP (di-ammonium phosphate), or MOP (muriate of potassium) at the time of sowing of potato. Besides, the matured Kharif paddy on the fields also needs fertiliser,” he said. The cultivators in the high yielding districts like East Burdwan, Hooghly, Birbhum and Bankura already are facing the bite of higher prices due to the desperate black marketing in the ground level. “We are forced to pay at least Rs 12 to Rs 15 more per kg, which comes as an undesired taxation on us,” said Raghunath Ghosh of Hirhbandh in Khatra.
So said Munshi Ershad Ali of Khandaghosh, Khokon Roy of Monteswar in East Burdwan. Bengal, like some other high yielding states, witnesses varying degrees of land degradation, soil fertility depletion, which seems to be a cause of concern. A gap between the removal of nutrients by crop and their addition through fertiliser always remained in Bengal farmlands. In 2022, Bengal consumed 7.96 lakh MT of NPK fertiliser compared to 8.06 lakh MT in 2021. In 2016, the consumption reached an all-time high in 2016 with 8.39 lakh MT, which was 5.62 lakh MT in 2001, the agriculture officials said. Bankura has been allocated 13,451 MT of urea, 7711 MT of NPK, 3226 MT of DAP and 2417 MT of MOP in October.
Narayan Chandra Mondal, deputy director of agriculture in Bankura said: “We’ve already show-caused 64 fertiliser sellers and four have been suspended till indefinite period for black marketing. Three assistant directors of agriculture, posted in Bankura, Khatra and Bishnupur have been closely monitoring the issue.” Bankura has 65 wholesale distributors of chemical fertiliser and 1,250 retailers. MP, Bankura, Subhas Sarkar blamed the state’s failure to curb black marketing.