WITH THE Railways having suspended operation of goods trains to Punjab, the state is facing an urgent shortage of 8 lakh tonnes of urea — one of the major fertilisers for both Kharif and Rabi crops — to complete sowing of wheat. Out of this, 4 lakh tonnes is needed in November itself.
Around 13,000 tonnes urea of the state’s share for October has also not been received. Experts say that if the urea is not delivered to farmers on time, it could have a major adverse impact on the wheat crop.
Almost 70 per cent wheat sowing in the state is complete. However, Punjab had just 22 per cent of the total required urea of 13.50 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) for Rabi season, out of which around 11 lakh tonnes is used for wheat crop only, which is grown over 35 lakh hectares area and covers 85 per cent or the total Rabi crop area in the state.
Train services in Punjab have been suspended since September 24, when farmers started the ‘rail roko’ agitation against the Centre’s farm laws. The Railways had briefly resumed goods train services after farmer unions on October 21 announced the lifting of the ‘rail roko’ protests. However, two days later, the services were suspended again with Railways saying that protesters are still blocking the tracks.
“The state is in extreme need of urea now. Around 70 per cent of wheat sowing in the state has already been completed as it is a controlled agricultural item and is handed over to the states as per their share, not to individual farmers,” said Joint Director, Fertilisers, Dr Baldev Singh, adding that Punjab is yet to receive around 8 lakh tonnes Urea. “Even if we start getting delivery, it may not reach farmers before a week and 10 days while the wheat crop requires its first dose in November itself,” he said.
Ideal time for sowing wheat is from November 1 to 15, but farmers keep on sowing till the end of the month.
Three doses of urea are applied to the wheat crop, starting from sowing time in November to early January when the crop is almost 45-55 days old. As per the recommendations of the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, 110 kg urea is required per acre of the wheat crop, but in Punjab, majority farmers use three bags of 45 kg each per acre, which means 135 kg per acre for wheat crop.
Earlier, officials were hopeful that by the time these fertilisers are required for the wheat crop in November, farmers would have already received the fertilisers now that the ‘rail roko’ has been lifted from most locations.
“Punjab, which has been contributing one third of the total wheat to the national pool, is being discriminated against by the Centre when the rail roko has already been lifted,” said Bharti Kisan Union (Dakaunda) General Secretary Jagmohan Singh, adding that the urea must be sent through special trains to Punjab as soon as possible.
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