EDITORIAL: Costly delay

It is high time that necessary measures were taken to ensure that the fertilizers reached the farmers on time as further delay threatens to affect the paddy crop

The plantation of paddy and weeding is now on with timely onset of monsoon this year.

However, as usual the farmers are facing a severe shortage of chemical fertilizers which are imported.

All successive governments are to be blamed for this state of affairs although they knew well in advance that the shortages of fertilizers would continue to persist unless corrective measures were taken.

Nepal being an agrarian country most of the population depend on chemical fertilizers to boost agricultural production.

Sadly, now although it appears that there is adequate supply of chemical fertilizers this year too like usual the problem faced by the farmers is the failure to acquire them due to the lack of proper distribution of fertilizers.

Most of the imported fertilizers are stuck up at the Inland Clearance Depot (ICD) in Birgunj with the importers failing to clear the ground rent and also the terminal handling charge after the border blockade.

The government bodies which should see to it that the chemical fertilizers are made available to the farmers on time are playing the blame game for the delay in the distribution of the chemical fertilizers.

The Ministry of Agriculture Development wrote to the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) some two weeks ago to release the fertilizers from the ICD as the monsoon was about to enter the country.

This has led the Agriculture and Water Resources Committee of the Legislature-Parliament to instruct the government to see to the smooth supply of chemical fertilizers to farmers. As can be seen the government has failed in arranging their proper distribution.

Although the government has extended the subsidy amounting to Rs. 5.47 billion for the fiscal year 2016/17 with the purpose of facilitating the farmers to procure chemical fertilizers at subsidized rates in order to boost production it appears that little effective utilization of the subsidy is being made so far.

The subsidy has been granted for the procurement of 300,000 tonnes of chemical fertilizers such as urea, potash and diammonium phosphate (DAP).

Around 20,000 tonnes of urea fertilizers and 2,600 tonnes of DAP imported by the Agriculture Input Company (AIC) and Salt Trading Corporation (STC) which are authorized to import the chemical fertilizers are now being stranded at ICD. This is very unfortunate.

Although the AIC and STC are importing more chemical fertilizers as there is a huge demand for them during the paddy plantation and weeding time they appear to be unable to distribute the chemical fertilizers properly.

Incidentally the ICD Birgunj is a joint venture company of Himalayan Terminal which is not dispatching the cargoes until the importers pay the charges that have been accrued. With a stake of 20 per cent in the Himalayan Terminal of the government-owned Nepal Transit and Warehouse Company Ltd.

the cargoes should have been released. But they say that they are incapable of paying up Rs 100 million to clear up the dues claimed by the Himalayan Terminal.

It is, therefore, high time the concerned took the necessary measures so that the fertilizers reached the farmers as their supply has been delayed.

Initial confusion

Some people, including those who have worked in the education field for a long time, have found confusing the letter grading system of evaluation of students which the education ministry introduced in the general stream of SLC examination of 2072 B.S.

But any system which is newly introduced becomes somewhat confusing at first but then people start to understand it fully and get adjusted accordingly.

Indeed, there are certain areas where clarification has yet to come, and this delay has caused some confusion. Because of the letter grading system, some 82 percent of the SLC examinees this year are reported to be able to join one or the other subject in Grade IX.

This was not possible before.

The letter grading system helps to reduce, to a significant extent, some of the unhealthy practices going on at the expense of the students and parents in general. But this system cannot guarantee the quality of school education, for which separate efforts have to be made.

There should be no confusion about this.

From the coming academic year, Grade XI will also go for the letter grading system, and similarly in Class IX and preferably even at the basic education level, grading system should be introduced.