A shortfall in urea, the most basic nitrogen fertiliser used in agriculture, has stumped farmers across the state, with many even complaining that traders are hoarding the compound. Officials of the state agriculture department have denied any shortage but said disruptions in supply might have caused difficulties at the village-level.
As one of the staple fertilisers used by farmers, states are given season-wise quota of urea by the central government. For this season, Maharashtra has been allocated 15 lakh tonnes (lt) of urea, to be supplied between April and September. Till July, the state is slated to receive 10 lakh tonnes of its quota.
An official of the state agriculture commissionerate said, “Till date we have received 5 lakh tonnes and the supply is constant.” However, there was a shortfall in April due to the nationwide lockdown. “Even now, there are labour problems in bagging and unloading the railway racks that supply the fertiliser, but they are minor in nature,” the official said.
As monsoon remains active, punctual sowing operations have picked up in the state. Urea is used by farmers as a fertiliser both in pre-sowing land preparation as well as during growth phase of crops.
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Rohit Dube, a farmer from Derde Korhale village in Kopargaon taluka of Ahmednagar district, said urea is the cheapest and most efficient nitrogen fertiliser for the fields. “In fact, we require it throughout the lifecycle of the crop,” he said.
Dube alleged that urea was short in supply till a few days ago with some of the input shops trying to sell the fertiliser at above its mandated price of Rs 250-300 for a 25 kg bag.
Maruti Korde Patil, Hingoli district head of the Prahar Janshakti Party, said the shortage had led to black-marketeering and hoarding. “Traders have stock, but are holding on to them because the coming two weeks are crucial for crops’ growth stage. At this time, farmers will not mind paying a little extra to get the urea. Many shop owners have stock but not at the store itself. They’re holding the stock at a different location and farmers are suffering on account of this,” Korde told The Indian Express.
He said many farmers who went to purchase urea were told that the stock is in a godown elsewhere and would be made available if a vehicle was available, at an inflated price and with no “pucca bill”.
Other traders said there was panic buying as farmers sought to buy more than the two bags ordered by the district agriculture officer. In Navalgaon village in Hingoli, some farmers were asking for eight to 10 bags of urea.
Last month, a fertiliser store was raided by Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Dada Bhuse and the shop owner was found to have stocked more than 1,300 bags of urea. The shop’s customers were being asked to make other purchases simultaneously if they wanted to buy a bag of urea.
Bhuse had warned of action against all shopkeepers who resorted to black marketing of the fertiliser.
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