a year ago

Agri-inputs market turns errant

Farmers forced to pay high for fertiliser

Rice farming cost to surge further in coming Boro season

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Farmers are still farced to pay high for fertiliser buy for market waywardness during this Boro and Rabi season though government authorities claim adequate supply of the vital farm input.

The government rate for urea is Tk 22, Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) Tk 16, Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) Tk 22 and Muriate of Potash (MOP) Tk15.

Farmers in Nilphamari, Dinajpur, Manikganj, Jhenaidah, Jashore and other districts said they were paying Tk 2.0-5.0 extra a kg to source the item from village sub-dealers and sellers.

This way, the production cost of already pricy rice might be pricier further, said market experts.

Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Ministry of Industries (MoI) officials say there are 2.3 million tonnes of fertiliser in stock, including 0.963 million tonnes of urea.

The urea stock has been measured inclusive of the buffer stock.

Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) (under the MoI) director Md Saiful Islam Khan told the FE that the total demand for Urea is 2.6 million tonnes for the FY'23.

They had a target to import 2.03 million tonnes, including 0.5 million tonnes from KAFCO. Another 0.7 million was targeted from four local companies: Jamuna, Shahjalal, Ashuganj and Chittagong Urea.

However, 1.044 million tonnes were already imported so far this FY, he said.

Asked, he said, "The problem with LC opening with Saudi Banks for importing Urea was resolved."

He says there are now 0.582 million in the market and godowns while another 0.38 million tonnes are waiting to be released from the port.

Talking on non-urea, which the MoA usually deals with, additional secretary of the ministry Balai Krishna Hazra told the FE that the government has given top priority in terms of allocation to the farm sector.

He said 0.4 million tonnes of MoP had already been imported while the agreement for another 0.2 million tonnes almost been finalised.

He said they have 0.931 million tonnes of DAP, 0.411 million tonnes of TSP and 0.328 million tonnes of MoP in stock which are much more than that the demand for the next two months. Another 1.0 million tonnes would be brought until March.

Bangladesh Fertiliser Association (BFA) chairman Kamrul Ashraf Khan Poton says there are above 0.25 million tonnes of urea at dealers' level while supply is good from the government storages.

"There is no chance of charging high prices of urea by dealers who regularly give accounts of fertiliser arrival and sale to the administration," he says.

He says the higher prices might be happening at the village level by non-registered sellers.

"Though there is adequate supply, I bought a 50kg bag of DAP fertiliser for Tk 1000 against government-fixed price of Tk 800," says Asif Sarder, a farmer at Kisoreganj Upazila in Nilphamari.

Md Helal Uddin, a Kaliganj (Jhenaidah)-based farmer, says local sub-dealers are charging Tk 2.0 to 5.0 additional for DAP, TSP and MOP.

He said farmers bought fertiliser in advance for Boro and potato to avoid any kind of shortage during urgent needs in the December-March period.

"We are counting Tk 27 to source TSP, and Tk 20 for DAP and MOP," he adds.

He says Tk 2100 to Tk 2150 is required per bigha which could increase to Tk 2400-2500 a bigha this year.

Farm-economist Prof Gazi M Jalil says rice-production cost already surpassed Tk 45 a kg in the last Aman season. The surge in input price might also cause a further hike in rice prices during the Boro season, he said.

The government should take immediate measures to prevent this "artificial price hike" of urea and other inputs by rising effective vigilance in the total value chain of fertiliser as the Boro crop comprises 55 per cent of the rice demand.

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