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Friday, September 17, 2021

Punjab: Fertilisers of reputed brands fail random tests; firms, dealers trade blame

Few samples had zero per cent zinc against required 12 per cent, and 1.16 per cent sulphur against 90 per cent requirement.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
August 3, 2021 10:17:37 am
FertiliserReacting to the report, Pesticides and Fertiliser Dealer Association, Punjab said the government must act against manufacturers rather than the dealers who sell the product.

Fertiliser samples of three reputed companies have failed random quality tests by the state agriculture department which found that few samples had zero per cent zinc against required 12 per cent, and 1.16 per cent sulphur against 90 per cent requirement.

Following the test report, Director, Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Department, has written to all the chief agricultural officers (CAOs) of Punjab asking them to step up testing and also take action per Fertiliser Control Act, 1955, in case of anomalies. The letter is dated July 20. According to sources, the tested batches of these fertilisers have been banned for sale in the market. Sources, however, said that the possibility of duplicate products being sold in the market has also not been ruled out.

The dealers, however, squarely blame the manufacturers.

Baldev Singh, Joint Director, Punjab Agriculture Department, said, “Random sampling is done on a routine basis. In the present case, all the companies have given us in writing that the samples don’t belong to their company and hence the dealers need to prove that they had authorisation from the particular company to sell the products. For the time being, we have intensified sampling and samples taken from dealers based in Moga, Faridkot and Mansa have failed tests.”

During the testing, one sulphur fertiliser by a reputed Gujarat-based was found to have 1.16 per cent sulphur against requirement of 90 per cent.

Similarly, a zinc sulphate fertiliser by a Kashipur-based company was found to have zero per cent zinc sulphate against 33 per cent requirement, and a zinc fertiliser of a Hanumangarh-based firm that should have contained 12 per cent zinc was again found to have zero per cent zinc.

Reacting to the report, Pesticides and Fertiliser Dealer Association, Punjab said the government must act against manufacturers rather than the dealers who sell the product.

Rakesh Kalani, general secretary of the association, said, “This is a normal practice that every year during random testing of samples many samples fail tests and later companies file appeals in which their samples even pass tests. However, in the whole process, dealers face loss as farmers refuse to pay us for the already purchased products and even they suffer loss for buying a substandard product. However, the companies go scot free.”

He added, “It is too shocking that results have shown no zinc sulphate or zinc and just 1.16 per cent of sulphur. Such companies should not be allowed to file an appeal as they need to have a minimum requirement of fertiliser content in their sample for filing an appeal. The labs also need to be questioned where after filing an appeal of retest, the samples pass. Action should be on companies or the labs of the government. “

Suresh Satija, president of Abohar Pesticides and Fertiliser Dealers Association, said, “Strict action needs to be taken against the culprits and the companies should not be allowed to sell their products in the market. However, only a particular batch is banned while the rest batches are sold freely. The government needs to act tough against companies cheating farmers.”

Kalani said, “Fertiliser market in Punjab is of Rs 800-900 crore and this nexus of manufacturing companies needs to be checked. We have taken up the matter with the Director Agriculture as well.”

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