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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Fertiliser stocks dip further, minister asks farmers not to hoard

Data from the Department of Fertilisers shows DAP stocks at 14.63 lakh tonnes (lt) as on October 31, compared to 44.95 lt and 64 lt for the same day in 2020 and 2019.

Written by Harish Damodaran | New Delhi |
Updated: November 2, 2021 7:34:37 am
The shortage of material has seemingly forced farmers to replace DAP and MOP, which contain 46% ‘P’ and 60% ‘K’, with fertilisers having less of these nutrients.

STOCKS OF di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and muriate of potash (MOP) have depleted to just about a third of levels from a year ago, even as the peak season for planting of rabi crops has taken off.

Data from the Department of Fertilisers shows DAP stocks at 14.63 lakh tonnes (lt) as on October 31, compared to 44.95 lt and 64 lt for the same day in 2020 and 2019. MOP stock availability was, likewise, down to 7.82 lt, from the corresponding October-end levels of 21.70 lt in 2020 and 21.52 lt in 2019.

The situation isn’t as bad in urea and complex fertilisers that contain different combinations of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potash (K) and sulphur (S). October-closing stocks were lower for this year but not at near-crisis levels: 52.90 lt versus 79.76 lt (2020) and 78.95 lt (2019) in urea; and 30.98 lt versus 38.40 lt and 52.13 lt for NPKS complexes.

Farmers mainly plant mustard, potato, garlic, chana (chickpea), masoor (red lentil), matar (green peas), jeera (cumin) and dhaniya (coriander) during October. The peak rabi demand for fertilisers is during November-December, when sowing of wheat and onion happens. The current low stocks raise concerns on that front.

On Monday, however, Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Mansukh Mandaviya termed reports of a shortage as “rumours” and denied them. Appealing to farmers not to “hoard” fertilisers, he claimed that 18 lt of DAP will be supplied in November, as against a projected demand of 17 lt. Supply of NPKS fertilisers, at 30 lt, will also surpass the demand of 15 lt for the month.

Interestingly, meanwhile, the official data also reveal higher overall sales of fertilisers in October. The month registered lower retail sales of DAP (13.9 lt against 15.37 lt in October 2020) and MOP (2.5 lt against 2.84 lt). But this was more than offset by increased sales of urea (20.66 lt versus 17.55 lt), NPKS (13.07 lt versus 8.7 lt) and single super phosphate (7.93 lt versus 4.69 lt).

The shortage of material has seemingly forced farmers to replace DAP and MOP, which contain 46% ‘P’ and 60% ‘K’, with fertilisers having less of these nutrients. The latter includes single super phosphate (containing only 16% ‘P’ and 11% ‘S’) and NPKS complexes such as 12:32:16:0, 10:26:26:0 and 20:20:0:13. To what extent the switch to low nutrient-content fertilisers would help meet demand in the coming weeks, however, remains to be seen.

Fertiliser firms have already hiked the retail prices of NPKS complexes like 10:26:26:0 and 12:32:16:0 from Rs 1,175-1,185 to Rs 1,450-1,500 per 50-kg bag. While they haven’t increased DAP rates (from Rs 1,200/bag), there isn’t much stock of this fertiliser in the market.

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