Jharkhand farmers who have sown 16.66% more crops this kharif season compared to previous year, have alleged facing shortage of fertilizer, or being forced to buy it at a high price by dealers at the crucial time of raising plants.
However, the state agriculture department said the situation was created by dealers to raise profit. Taking action, the department has suspended more than 500 such dealers on charges of anomalies in fertilizer distribution, officials claimed.
Ram Prasad, 50, a farmer from Hazaribag, said, “The fertilizer is being sold at high price here. A pack, which includes 45 kg, of urea is being sold at Rs 340 to Rs 360, while the actual price of the pack is around Rs 270. The retailers do not give any cash memo.”
Another farmer from Ramgarh district, Raju Mahto, 45, said, “Dealers force us to buy non-subsidized chemicals such as calcium or gypsum along with the subsidized fertilizer, which increases the overall prices.”
On Tuesday, farmers from dozens of villages under Hussainbad block of Palamu district created ruckus for not getting fertilizer. The farmers alleged that they were called by a retailer at a place in Gamahria at 9am for fertilizer. However, even after waiting for more than three hours, the distribution of fertilizer did not start. Later, agriculture officer Avinash Kumar convinced the farmers and started the distribution.
Farmers said if they did not get fertilizer in time, they might suffer harvest loss, despite achieving a record sowing this year.
Farmers of the state have sown kharif crops in 25 lakh hectares of area against the target of 28.27 lakh hectare this year. The sown coverage increased by 4.72 lakh hectare this year compared to the previous year. Similarly, paddy sowing coverage this year remained at 21.86% more than the previous year. Total paddy sowing coverage in 2019 was 74.29%, which reached 96.15% this year.
It is to be noted that Jharkhand underwent a drought situation in the previous kharif season. However, the drought-hit farmers did not receive any help neither from the state nor Centre for their crop loss. The state government had requested for drought relief for 55 blocks in seven districts from the Centre in May this year, which was rejected as the deadline for seeking drought relief expired on October 31 last year.
State agriculture department director Manoj Kumar said, “There is no shortage of fertilizer in any part of the state. We have more than sufficient fertilizer, including urea. The available stock of fertilizer we have right now is over 90,000 metric tonne, including 36,000 metric tonne stock of urea, which is more than the requirement of September month.”
Kumar said they, however, have received complaints of artificial crisis, fertilizer being sold at higher prices at many places and at some places dealers forcing farmers to buy non-subsidized chemicals along with urea or other subsidized fertilizer. “We have taken all these issues seriously. More than 500 retailers have been suspended so far on charges of irregularities in fertilizer distribution,” he said.
Kumar said district agriculture officers (DAO) are the licensing authority for the retailers and they have been directed to take immediate action when such cases appear.
“The suspended retailers charged that they get the fertilizer at a high price from wholesalers. So, they give it at a high price to farmers. I have directed all the joint directors to be in the field for the next 10 days from Friday and inspect the wholesalers. If any wholesaler is found selling subsidized fertilizer at a high price, his licence would be cancelled,” Kumar said.