Govt notices fertiliser crisis, yet to know reason
The government has noticed fertiliser crisis at 35 locations of 16 districts, but the investigation teams are yet to unearth the reasons behind the crisis, Agriculture Adviser CS Karim said yesterday.
The government does not have any urea shortage, but the eight investigation teams investigating the situation could not find out the actual reason behind the scant supply of the fertiliser, said Karim at a briefing on fertiliser situation held at the conference room of Press Information Department.
The government does not have any plan to increase the prices of fertilisers, said the adviser adding that the government would start issuing fertiliser cards to farmers before the next Boro season.
A high-level secretary committee a few months ago suggested that the government should raise fertiliser prices.
When asked if the government was considering raising fertiliser prices as a deterrent measure against smuggling, Karim said, "The government has no plan to increase fertiliser prices in the greater interest of national food security and to ensure maximum food production."
All law enforcement agencies including joint forces, Bangladesh Rifles and Coast Guards have been put on alert to prevent smuggling of fertilisers, he added.
To keep the prices affordable for farmers, fertilisers are heavily subsidised by the government. But smugglers find it a lucrative commodity to smuggle out of the country, as its prices are lower than that of neighbouring countries, said industry experts.
A 50kg bag of locally produced urea currently sells at Tk 240 as opposed to its production cost of Tk 360. While a bag of the same quantity of imported urea is sold for Tk 265 when its import cost is Tk 1,550, said sources.
The joint forces will be assisting in issuing the fertiliser cards by April next year, prior to the beginning of next Boro season. Before the actual project, pilot projects for issuing the cards will be taken up within the next couple of months, the adviser said.
The government has also decided to build nine more buffer fertiliser warehouses in nine districts that currently do not have any such facilities, Karim added.
During this current fiscal year, 2007-08, the government aims to distribute 28.18 lakh tonnes of urea, which is 2.8 lakh tonnes higher than the previous FY figure, CS Karim said adding that till October 27, the stock of urea was 4.2 lakh tonnes, as opposed to 2.8 lakh tonnes during the same period in FY07.
The government has distributed 7.71 lakh tonnes of urea against the demand of 7.64 lakh tonnes from July through October in the current fiscal, he said.
Besides, the government has already disbursed subsidies to traders on non-urea fertilisers such as Triple Super Phosphate (TSP), Muriate of Potash (MOP) and Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP).
Additional Agriculture Secretary CQK Moshtaq said a huge quantity of TSP and MOP has reached the Chittagong Port and more shipments are on the way to meet the future demands.
Around 1 lakh tonnes of non-urea fertilisers were imported last year and released for the market after ensuring their subsidies, he added.
Industries Secretary Nurul Amin, Principal Information Officer Iftekhar Ahmed and Senior Public Relations Officer Abdullah Al Shaheen also spoke at the briefing.