July 2, 2012


Indian fertiliser cargo defers export


A planned fertiliser shipment from India has been deferred bringing more suffering to farmers in Nepal currently struck by a severe scarcity of chemical fertilisers.


The government had announced on Saturday (June 23) that 12,500 tonnes of urea imported from India would arrive by Thursday. However, the state-owned supplier Agriculture Inputs Company (AIC) said on Wednesday that it would be another three days before the consignment arrives as packing work has been held up at Mineral and Mine Trading Company (MMTC) India.


"We had planned to make the fertilisers available by Thursday, however, we will have to wait longer due to delays in packing at the Indian company," said Shashi Raj Tuladhar, managing director of AIC. "We have received an email from the company confirming that the shipment will be dispatched within two to three days."


Tuladhar added that 2,500 tonnes of urea would arrive in the first lot. AIC plans to supply this to the central region, mainly Kathmandu, Kavrepalanchok and a few Tarai districts. The second lot will be distributed in the eastern Tarai districts. Tuladhar said that the fertilisers would be shipped by rail in batches of 2,500 tonnes.


As per a Nepal-India treaty, India has agreed to sell 100,000 tonnes of chemical fertilisers (60,000 tonnes of urea and 40,000 tonnes of diammonium phosphate or DAP) to Nepal at the international parity price annually. The treaty was signed two years ago to ease a supply deficit and lengthy procurement process from third countries.


Delays in supply occurred this year due to a controversy concerning another exporter Indian Potash Ltd (IPL), which was found to have supplied underweight fertiliser. Meanwhile, AIC said that the procurement process of DAP would be finalised within a week. An additional 30,000 tonnes of DAP have been ordered for the current paddy plantation season.


AIC has also decided to distribute some amounts of fertiliser under a coupon system directly from its office in Kuleshwor, Kathmandu. Over 2,500 farmers had picketed the AIC office last week demanding fertilisers.


According to the Ministry of Agriculture, 700,000 tonnes of chemical fertilisers are required to meet the country's demand. With the government failing to provide timely supply of fertilisers, farmers have been forced to buy fertilisers on the black market where a sack of urea costs INR2,500 (US$44.93) to INR2,800 (US$50.32) while the government price is INR1,022 (US$18.37).


However, the government subsidised fertiliser fulfils just 20-25% of the demand. A fertiliser shortage during this period makes a huge difference in food grain production because the June-September growing season contributes 80% of the total output.


This is the time for basal dose fertiliser for paddy (putting fertiliser into the soil during final harrowing and levelling of the field). For corn farming, it is the time for top dressing (applying the fertiliser on the surface of the field).