Provinces directed to take action against fertiliser hoarders

Farmers forced to buy urea bag at Rs1,950 to Rs2,000 against expected price of Rs1,850

ISLAMABAD: With serious fertiliser shortages looming across the country, the Fertiliser Review Committee (FRC) has asked all provincial governments to take strict action against hoarders; however, the industry maintains that storages are part of the supply chain.

In this regard, a meeting of the FRC held here no Monday was chaired by Federal Minister for Industries and Production Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar. The meeting was attended by Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar and Minister for Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam, as well as the representatives of fertiliser manufacturers and relevant officials.

The meeting, which was held to allay issues related to the supply of crop nutrients, noted that urea prices were already beginning to increase at the retail end with buyers paying up to Rs120 more for a 20 kilo bag.

It was informed that farmers in different parts of the country had no option but to purchase a urea bag between Rs1,950 and Rs2,000 whereas the rate should be around Rs1,850.

However, fertiliser manufacturers stated that the ex-factory price was Rs1,798 per bag while overheads including freight charges and dealers’ margins etc. had not changed significantly.

It was brought to attention of the Chair that dealers had hoarded 4.5 million tonnes of urea, making massive profits.

The meeting was also told that owing to the current stock of urea, a fresh consignment of 100,000 MT urea will be imported in the first week of December.

Regarding the supply and demand position, the meeting was informed that according to the National Fertiliser Development Company’s (NFDC) data, there had been a 10 per cent increase in urea sales during January to October (10MCY21).

The offtake in 10 months of 2021 was 5.081 million tonnes (MT) against 4.626 MT during the same period last year, it was informed.

Officials claimed that the demand for urea has increased due to favourable agriculture policies of the government and better farm economics.

While expressing concern over the hoarding of an essential commodity for farmers, Khusro Bakhtyar asked the provincial governments to take strict action against hoarders and those engaged in black marketing of fertilisers.

The minister stated that the government took all measures including uninterrupted supply of gas to fertiliser plants to ensure well-timed availability of urea to farmers at affordable prices and would not tolerate market exploitation by dealers. He urged representatives of the fertiliser industry to blacklist exploiters to smoothen the supply chain.

He said that the government is closely monitoring distribution and supply of fertilisers to ensure soil nutrients are made available to farmers at affordable prices during Rabi season.

Bakhtyar also formed the task force committee to monitor the situation pertaining to the supply side, marketing balance, and regional diversion plan to fill the gap between the supply and demand of urea across the country.

Moreover, fertiliser manufacturers while commending the government for ensuring gas supply to urea plants for production enhancement across the country, reaffirmed that manufacturers would support the measures to protect farmers.

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Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]
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