With farmers in many parts of Madhya Pradesh complaining of urea shortages during the ongoing wheat planting season, the Centre has directed fertiliser firms to expedite supplies of the nutrient to the poll-bound state on a “most urgent” and “topmost priority” basis.
“All the suppliers are requested to immediately plan the dispatches and do the needful…The matter is most urgent and may be addressed on topmost priority,” the department of fertilisers has said in a communication, dated November 15, to the chiefs of National Fertilisers Ltd, Iffco, Kribhco, Chambal Fertilisers, GNFC, GSFC and other major companies that market urea in MP.
The Indian Express saw farmers desperately queuing up at fertiliser outlets in many places, including Harda, Dewas and Ujjain, to buy whatever little urea is available. “I had sown wheat just before Diwali (first week of November). Urea is required to be applied 12-15 days after sowing, following which we give one irrigation. If I don’t get urea now, the germinated seedlings will suffer from lack of nutrition and there is no point giving water either,” said Rakesh Jat, a 14-acre farmer from Ratatalai village in Harda tehsil and district.
“We have been waiting since early morning to get urea. Even the lucky few are managing to get only half of their requirement,” said Yogesh Sharma, who has sown wheat in his entire 27-acre holding at Abagaon Khurd village in Harda tehsil.
Mahesh Choudhary, an eight-bigha (4.1 acre) farmer from Jamalpura village of Ujjain tehsil/district, said that approximately one 50-kg bag of urea is needed for every bigha. “My own requirement is eight bags. The government, as it is, has reduced the weight of urea bags from 50 to 45 kg. I am not able to get a single bag of even 45 kg, leave alone 50 kg,” he said.
Mahendra Singh Solanki, a big farmer whose family cultivates 203 bigha (105 acres) at Malpura village of Ujjain’s Badnagar tehsil, likened the current situation to “a patient being on ventilator support”. He claimed that farmers are even shelling out Rs 350-400 for a 45-kg bag, whose government-fixed maximum retail price is Rs 266.
When asked whether the shortage situation will impact their voting choices, Solanki’s reply was “we will support any party that will help us get urea now”. There is no point if urea is made available in December or January, he added.
Meanwhile, a top MP government official said that urea sales in the state during this rabi season have so far been 8 per cent more than last year’s comparative figure. The present stock position, too, is the same as last year at this time. “Generally, cooperatives/ government companies account for 50 per cent and private firms the balance 50 per cent sales for urea. We have changed that ratio to 80:20 in 22 districts. Along with the priority status now given to MP by the Centre and arrival of more rail rakes, supply should improve significantly in the next couple of days,” he told The Indian Express.
How effectively the Centre and state government deal with the shortage situation in urea could have a bearing on which way farmers vote on November 28.