UP farmers could see hopes of good paddy crop dashed due to urea shortage

Farmers plant paddy saplings at an agricultural field | Photo: PTI
Farmers in Uttar Pradesh, who were expecting a good rice crop this season on the back of above-average rain this monsoon, have been hit by a fertiliser crisis caused by a shortage of urea.

The increase in the paddy crop area this season and smuggling of fertlisers to Nepal are said to be the main reasons behind this crisis. In most of the UP districts, long queues of farmers can be seen outside state-run sales centres, waiting for their turn to get their supply of urea. In the open market, the fertiliser is available at extremely high rates.

According to officials, the area under paddy has gone to six million hectares from 5.8 million last year. There has been good rain this year so far in Barabanki, Basti, Gonda, Behraich, Balrampur, Sant Kabeernagar, Siddharthnagara, Deoria, Kushinagar and Mahrajganj districts, which are collectively known as the rice bowl of UP.

State agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi has asked officials to provide urea as per demand. He said till date 2.58 million tonnes of urea have been supplied to government and private sales centres. Seeing the crisis, the state government has asked the Pradeshik Co-operative Federation (PCF) to release an additional 40,000 tonnes immediately. Officials said the demand for the fertiliser has doubled this time. Some 2.73 million tonnes have been consumed till August 20 this year, compared to just two million tonnes on the same date last year.

However, farmers in the Terai belt said that due to the smuggling of urea to Nepal the situation has worsened. According to them, the crop area in Nepal has increased too and to meet the demand there, the fertiliser is being smuggled from bordering districts of Balrampur, Shravasti, Mahrajganj and Lakhimpur.

Urea is being supplied at a subsidised rate of Rs 267 per sack of 45 kg. However, in the open market it sells for Rs 951 per sack. Due to this large difference in rates, there has been much pressure on government counters selling subsidised urea. The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Harnam Verma said that there is acute shortage of urea in the peak season.

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