Himalayan News Service

Jhapa, July 1:

Farmers in the district are facing chemical fertilizer shortage just when the time for paddy sowing is nearing. They are compelled to import low quality Indian fertilizers after Salt Trading Corporation (STC) and Agriculture Equipment Company (AEC) failed to provide them with necessary fertilizers. The godown of AEC at Birtamod, Jhapa, has 26 metric tonnes of urea only and does not have DAP and potash. The Damak, Birtamod and Bhadrapur godowns with 22 thousand metric tonne capacities are empty. Dhirendra Singh Shrestha, STC chief at Birtamod, said, "After private companies were permitted to import chemical fertilizers, fertilizers being provided by the government were unable to compete with the cheap Indian fertilizers. That is why the corporation is distancing itself from fertilizer business."

There are 150 ADB-permitted private firms and shops that deal with fertilizer distribution in Jhapa, informed Gopal Banstola of Agriculture Development Bank. He said that 22,836 metric tonnes of fertilizer is necessary for 95 hectares of land. Currently, Paras, EPCO and Oswal brands of chemical fertilizers are available in Jhapa. Since there are no laboratories in the district to check on the authenticity of fertilizers, it is impossible to differentiate them, informed the ADO. It also informed that the office seizes the suspicious fertilizers and send samples to Kathmandu laboratories for testing. The district has an open border to West Bengal and Bihar and huge quantities of low quality fertilizer is smuggled from the bordering areas, informed the district police office at Jhapa. The police office agreed that smuggling has not been totally curbed.