Fertiliser plenty, yet prices high
Farmers in different districts are buying fertiliser at prices higher than those set by the government even though the authorities insist there is no crisis in the country.
As per the government-fixed rates, a 50 kg sack of Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) should sell for Tk 1,100, Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) for Tk 800 and Muriate of Potash (MOP) for Tk 750.
In reality, each sack of TSP is selling for Tk 1,400 to Tk 1,700, DAP between Tk 950 and Tk 1,050, and MOP for Tk 950-1,000, The Daily Star learnt after speaking with farmers in Dinajpur, Kushtia, Chuadanga, Naogaon, Jhenaidah, Sirajganj and a few other districts recently.
The prices of the fertilisers, needed to prepare the soil beds for the cultivation of vegetables, were hiked despite adequate stock, according to officials, who said a section of unscrupulous dealers and retailers was charging extra under the pretence of hiked prices in the international market.
The current stock of TSP is 1.92 lakh tonnes against the demand for 1.14 lakh tonnes, according to agriculture ministry officials. The stock of DAP and MOP stood at 5.96 and 3.12 lakh tonnes against the demand for 2.88 and 1,29 lakh tonnes respectively.
The hiked prices come even though Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque on November 30 had directed field-level officials to keep a close watch on the ground so that no one can sell fertiliser at prices higher than the government rates.
There is a sufficient supply of fertiliser in the country and that the government would not increase the prices even though those have almost tripled in the international market, he said.
Razzaque also instructed the officials to strengthen monitoring to ensure an adequate supply to farmers.
And yet, farmers, who were already struggling following the recent hike in diesel price, continue to bear the brunt of the situation.
"Dealers and retailers have hiked the prices cashing in on the current situation," said Aminur Rashid, a farmer in Sirajganj's Belkuchi upazila.
Farmer Mohammad Nazim from Chuadanga's Damurhuda upazila told The Daily Star that he needs at least 40 sacks of non-urea fertiliser a season to cultivate corn, bananas, cotton and rice.
Recently, he bought 10 sacks of TSP from a dealer for Tk 1,700 each, instead of Tk 1,100 fixed by the government.
"I asked the dealer about the price hike and he replied that they have a supply crisis," he said.
Azizur Rahman, a farmer in Dinajpur Sadar's Gopalganj Hat area, said he went to the market two weeks ago to buy MOP but did not find any.
One dealer in the district said the government allotment could not fulfil the local demand. So, they had to buy fertiliser from outside and hence the higher prices.
Wishing not to be named, a dealer in the district said they were facing a supply crisis and that led to the price hike. They bought fertiliser from importers at higher prices, due to which they are not able to follow the government rates, he added.
Asked, Md Asadullah, director-general of the Department of Agriculture Extension, said there is no crisis of any fertiliser in the country at the moment.
"As the prices are going up in the international market, some dealers and retailers might try to manipulate them. However, we are conducting mobile court drives to stop the illegal practice. If we find any specific complaints against any dealers, we will cancel their dealership," he added.
At present, only the most widely-used fertiliser urea, which is applied to the fields following the cultivation of crops and vegetables, is selling at the government fixed rate of Tk 800 for a 50 kg sack.