Kathmandu, September 3

Farmers of the mid-western and far-western regions have been facing severe shortage of chemical fertilisers that are normally used on paddy fields after weeding. Farmers of these regions have been hit hard as the government-owned Agriculture Inputs Company Ltd (AICL) and Salt Trading Corporation (STC) failed to supply the chemical fertilisers properly due to prolonged protests in the tarai region of the country since around three weeks back.

Paddy plantation has been carried out in a timely manner in the mid-west and far-western parts of the country due to the favourable monsoon in these regions compared to other parts of the country.

Uttam Kumar Bhattarai, secretary at the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), today, said that the government has been trying to deliver chemical fertilisers and hold talks with transporters’ associations. “However, truckers are hesitant to ferry fertilisers due to the ongoing protests in various districts,” he said.

As per Bhattarai, the government has enough stock of chemical fertilisers to cater to the demand for the current paddy season. Reportedly, AICL and STC currently have a stock of 23,455 metric tonnes of chemical fertilisers. Meanwhile, 107,000 metric tonnes of fertilisers are said to have been already dispatched for Nepal, but some of it is stranded at the border points due to the ongoing strikes and protests.

AICL supplies chemical fertilisers from its 38 sales depots and STC from 21 sales depots across the country.

Amar Raj Khair, managing director of Agricultural Inputs Company, has sought escorting by security forces to deliver the chemical fertilisers. “We have sufficient stock of fertilisers to serve the demand of the country. However, supply has been affected as transporters are unwilling to risk ferrying fertilisers due to the rising insecurity along the highways.”

The government had allocated Rs 5.67 billion as subsidy for chemical fertilisers and about 281,000 tonnes of chemical fertilisers are to be imported this year. STC has been authorised to import 85,000 tonnes and Agriculture Inputs Company would bring in the rest. The country has been importing fertilisers from neighbouring India, China and some Gulf countries.

Of the total 281,000 tonnes of chemical fertilisers to be imported this year, 60 per cent would be urea, 30 per cent DAP and 10 per cent potash. The government has been extending subsidy of 59.18 per cent on urea, 30.29 per cent on DAP and 45.13 per cent on potash to the farmers. The country has already imported 174,000 tonnes of chemical fertilisers for this year.