Bardiya farmers are being forced to buy unnecessary variant of fertilisersFarmers are turned away from shops for refusing to buy two kinds of fertilisers.
The fertilisers scarcity in Bardiya has eased but farmers say they are paying a steep price as the suppliers have been forcing them to buy two types of fertilisers.
The cooperatives dealing in chemical fertilisers have said that anyone buying urea should also buy SSP (Single Super Phosphate) even though farmers say they don’t need the latter.
This has caused a financial burden on the farmers, many of whom are struggling to make a living due to the protracted lockdown imposed in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Farmers unwilling to purchase both variants of fertilisers are being turned away by the dealers. One sack of urea is priced Rs802 at the SSP at Rs1,200.
Ashish Chaudhary, a farmer from Badhaiyatal, could not buy urea because he didn’t have the money to buy SSP. “I had saved Rs 1,000 so I could get a sack of urea, but the dealers said I needed to buy SSP too, which I don’t even need,” Chaudhary said. “I had to return empty-handed.”
Without urea, Chaudhary says his paddy plants will not grow.
“If the plants don’t get enough fertilisers they won’t flower well. I can’t afford to buy the fertiliser I need due to the condition set by the cooperatives,” Bachchu Chaudhary, another farmer, said.
Mohan Singh KC, chief of Agriculture Inputs Company, Bardiya, said that the cooperatives’ manipulation of customers into buying the SSP is wrong, adding that his office only provides three variants of chemical fertilisers—urea, diammonium phosphate (DAP) and potash—to the cooperatives.
“The suppliers are taking advantage of the crisis to earn some extra profit, which is condemnable,” he said. “It’s not right to manipulate thousands of farmers who are already struggling.”
Ramesh Poudel, chief of Agriculture Inputs Company in Banke, said that he has received complaints regarding the cooperatives’ manipulation of farmers.
Manoj Chaudhary, chief of Salt Trading Company Nepalgunj, which trades the SSP, said that his office hasn’t made it mandatory for farmers to buy SSP with urea.
Prem Subedi, chief of District Cooperatives’ Association, said he is aware that many cooperatives have manipulated farmers into buying extra fertilisers, adding that the criteria is set by the Salt Trading Corporation itself, a claim Chaudhary, the chief of Salt Trading, denies.
“Many farmers have been affected due to the shortage of fertilisers,” Subedi said. “The bigger problem than manipulation is the crisis itself.”
The fertiliser crisis is far from over in the district, with barely one-third of its necessity of 12,000 tonnes currently in store with various dealers. A total of 120 cooperatives have been registered at the Agriculture Inputs Company but not all of them have been able to sell the fertilisers.
The district administration has corresponded with the federal government demanding fertilisers but the latter hasn’t responded yet.
Sagar Dhakal, chief of the Nepalgunj-based Agriculture Centre which oversees Banke and Bardiya districts, said if the shortage of chemical fertilisers continues, paddy production may decline by up to 35 percent this year.