Rising prices and scanty supply of triple superphosphate (TSP) fertiliser are worrying farmers in Lalmonirhat.
They said the situation spells trouble for them as they are currently in the mid-season of growing various winter crops including potato, maize and winter vegetables.
They also demanded the authorities increase their monitoring activities at fertiliser markets during the primetime of winter crop cultivation.
Naresh Chandra Barman, a farmer in Kamalabari village of Aditmari upazila, said the TSP is needed to be applied on the crops every day at this stage of the cultivation. But if it is not applied in time due to unavailability or higher prices, quality or yield of the crops might fall.
The authorities, therefore, need to be vigilant for price manipulation at fertiliser markets, he also said.
Acknowledging that there is a supply shortage of TSP, Shamim Ashraf, deputy director of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Lalmonirhat, said instead of the TSP, the DAE advises farmers to use diammonium phosphate (DAP), which has higher nutrients and is cheaper than the TSP.
The TSP includes only phosphate whereas the DAP includes both phosphate and urea. "But without realising the advantage, the farmers have been in favour of the TSP," he added.
However, farmer Nazrul Islam, from Karnapur village in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila, said he prefers TSP to DAP as the former is more effective in controlling diseases and ensuring essential nutrition in winter crops.
Mozammel Haque, another farmer from the same village, said according to the government rate, the TSP is to be sold at Tk 22 per kilogram.
But fertiliser traders have been selling it at Tk 28 to 29 per kg. "Since we have to get TSP [for the crops], we are compelled to buy it at higher prices," he added.
When asked, Ashraful Islam, a fertiliser dealer of Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), said the supply of TSP has been less than the demand requires and they have been getting it at higher prices from Patenga in Chattogram.
And that is why they have to sell it to farmers at higher prices, he explained.
Mozammel Haque, in-charge of BADC fertiliser depot in Mahendranagar, said each fertiliser dealer has been allotted 6 tonnes of TSP in November and all fertilisers are being sold to farmers at preset prices via 92 dealers in the district.
Contacted, Shamim Ashraf, deputy director of DAE in Lalmonirhat, claimed that their field officers have been working to control fertiliser prices.
Admitting that some dealers might sell TSP at higher prices due to supply shortage, he also said, "I will be sending a letter to the ministry concerned to increase the supply of TSP as soon as possible."