Artificial shortage of fertilisers?

IMPROMPTU agitation by farmers against government’s failure to ensure them adequate supply of fertilisers sums up plight and pathetic condition of the food producers. At a time when they should be tending to the fields, farmers being compelled to scurry from pillar to post in search of the essential agricultural item could be construed as the government undermining importance of farmers and simply concentrating on launch of populist programmes to hog public limelight. While shortage of fertiliser has become a chronic problem in the state for years, the report that that the new regime could not bring in a whopping 15,000 tonnes of fertilisers out of the state’s share of 20,000 tonnes indicates absolute incompetency on the part of those who are supposed to ease inconveniences of the farmers. Inability to ensure availability of fertilisers at a time when farmers need them the most is obvious to evoke posers on compatibility of the department officials and consequently question the rationale for constant claims that the government is keen to see the farmers double their income in the next few years. Thus, it is natural that civil societies and student organisations point the finger of accusation against the government as the present issue illustrate that the state authorities have not learnt any lesson from similar problems of fertiliser shortage that cause worry to the farmers in the past. It also testifies outright negligence on part of the department concerned for farmers deprived of fertilisers when paddy crops need the item the most will consequently mean sharp drop in production and continuation of dependency on other states for food grains.

Moreover, abundant availability of fertilisers in the black market at exorbitant rate suggests that the government has utterly failed to check the past trend of unscrupulous elements taking undue advantage of growing demand for fertilisers apart from substantiating strong suspicion that the elected people’s representatives might be hand-in-glove with the black marketers as they are entitled fertiliser quotas. Regardless of meagre production, agriculture has been the back bone of Manipuri’s economy with about 80 per cent of the state’s total population engaged in agriculture and allied activities. Official records estimate that only 12.98 per cent of Manipur’s total land area are being utilised for agricultural purposes but the state is endowed with fertile soil suitable for many food and cash crops. While rice remains the stable food crop and paddy is grown on a large scale, both in hills and in plains, the state farmers, in-spite of being bereft of modern agricultural knowhow have been doing a commendable job of producing food and cash crops and as such there is no reason why the government should betray the cultivators. It is high time that the state government take a cue from the Centre’s vision to directly pass on the fertiliser subsidy to farmers through DBT. Though implementation of DBT for fertiliser subsidy is learnt to be getting delayed on account of lack of accuracy and non-updating of the targeted beneficiaries’ land records in many states, efforts need to be made to clear all hurdles for swift and smooth transfer of fertiliser subsidies in order to fix leakages and ensure that the farmers do not face similar problem of fertiliser shortage in the future.

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