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Friday, December 03, 2021

Explained: DAP ‘shortage’, and how it has become a big issue in Haryana

Though the government has so far categorically denied a "shortage" of the fertilizer, it is being distributed from police stations in the state, under the strict watch of police personnel. SUKHBIR SIWACH explains the problem, how it deepened and the government's plan to resolve it in the coming days

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
Updated: October 26, 2021 10:55:36 am
The shortage of DAP has already become a big issue in south Haryana — which is known for its cultivation of mustard crops — with panic already spreading among the farmers.

An acute shortage of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) in Haryana has seen desperate farmers pelting stones at the police, blocking roads in protest, and even resorting to “loot” the fertilizer from a private dealer’s outlet in Mahendragarh district of south Haryana. Though the government has so far categorically denied a “shortage” of the fertilizer, it is being distributed from police stations in the state, under the strict watch of police personnel. The Indian Express explains the problem, how it deepened and the government’s plan to resolve it in the coming days

Why is DAP so important for farmers?

Being a basic nutrient for Rabi crops, the DAP fertiliser has to be sprinkled at the time of sowing crops like mustard and wheat. The farmers say they need a bag of at least 45 kilos for sowing an acre of land. Any delay in its supply could adversely impact the sowing of crops. So, the farmers of the state have started turning impatient as they see a lack of supply of the fertilizer.

How did it all begin?

The shortage of DAP has already become a big issue in south Haryana — which is known for its cultivation of mustard crops — with panic already spreading among the farmers. Government sources say that the shortage is the fallout of less import in the wake of a spurt in the global prices of DAP. All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) Haryana unit secretary, Balbir Singh Thakan, alleged that the problem was a fallout of mismanagement on the part of the government. “The Central government imported the fertiliser late which resulted in its shortage. The country had no option but to import DAP as nearly decades ago, six plants of fertilizers had been shut down as the then government figured it was cheaper to import than to produce DAP.” With word of shortage spreading, the farmers rushed to outlets to buy the fertilizer. Giving an example Thakan says: “Only 7,000 bags reached for 70,000 acres of land in Bahl sub-tehsil of Bhiwani district initially. The farmers can’t afford to wait for the fertiliser when their fields are ready for sowing.”

How did the crisis turn into a law-and-order problem?

With farmers pre-empting a shortage, videos of long queues of people wanting to buy DAP has started to go viral on social media. The situation has gone from bad to worse. Haryana Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, JP Dalal, said, “Whenever there are rumours of shortage, farmers start seeking fertilizer for sowing the next cycle of crops too. Those involved in black marketing also try to take advantage of the situation. We have reports of huge black marketing of the fertilizer in neighbouring states of Punjab and Rajasthan. To keep a check on the smuggling of the fertiliser to these states, we give it to our farmers only after checking documents, such as Aadhaar or land documents. This has led to queues of farmers forming in front of offices of cooperative societies and outlets of private dealers.”

The farmers keep waiting for hours to get one or two bags of the fertilizer after reaching the outlets early in the morning. At Nangal Chaudhary (Mahendragarh), almost 2,000 farmers were waiting for DAP till 7 pm on Friday. That day 1,000 policemen were deployed to ensure the smooth distribution of DAP bags in the district when it was distributed from police stations. A small group of farmers later resorted to stone pelting at a police party which had responded after getting information of a road blockage in Nangal Chaudhary. Two days before that incident, a group of farmers had “looted” at least 100 bags of DAP from the stock of a private dealer, prompting the police to lodge an FIR. There are reports of blockage of a road in Mahendragarh district on Saturday too. Protests were held in other parts of the state as well.

What does the government say?

Agriculture minister JP Dalal said that there is sufficient stock of the fertilizer but rumours are getting crowds to distribution outlets. Dalal, who comes from a farming background, said, “In October, 2020, there was a consumption of nearly one lakh tonne (20 lakh bags) of DAP in Haryana. This time, we had a stock of 53,000 tonnes at the initial stage of October. Till now, 1.2 lakh tonnes of the fertiliser has arrived in the state. By the end of the month, we expect 1.35 lakh tonnes of the fertiliser. For the entire Rabi season, there was a consumption of three lakh tonnes in 2021. But this time we will ask for 50,000 additional tonnes of DAP so that the farmers don’t face problems during the sowing of wheat too.”

What is next in store?

Dalal said that the problem is likely to be resolved within a week. But farmer leaders feel that the issue is not going to end for the next couple of days as the farmers are desperate to get their hands on the fertilizer. On his part, Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, himself is monitoring the situation and holding meetings with senior officers. The government doesn’t want to see it becoming a big issue at a time when there is already an intense agitation going on against three contentious farm laws.

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