2 years ago

US agronomists ring alarm on Bagladesh farming

War in input hubs worrisome for next boro harvest

Global supply of seeds, fertilisers, fuels clogged

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The Russia-Ukraine war looks worrisome for next major rice harvest in Bangladesh as supply chain of MOP fertiliser in the Boro-farming season may be affected, US agronomists say.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sounds such prognosis in a report titled 'Impact of Ukraine-Russia War on Bangladesh Fertilizer: Supply Disruption and Shortage'.

Published recently, the report says Bangladesh might face challenge in sourcing the muriate of potash (MOP) fertiliser -- an input hugely needed for cropping in Bangladesh as also elsewhere.

Rocketing prices as well as obstacles to sourcing it from the biggest basic supply hubs like Russia, Ukraine and Belarus could put the country into problem, it forecasts.

The USDA mentions that Bangladesh has set a requirement for 0.75 million tonnes of MOP in the next financial year (FY'23) while it has a stock of 0.304 million tonnes.

"So, sourcing the rest volume from the world market would be a very difficult task," says the report -- as the war still rages on with global supply gateways from the 'breadbasket' blockaded.

Quoting government sources, the report says in the outgoing financial year, the country consumes 2.5 million tonnes of urea, 0.685 million tonnes of TSP, 1.63 million tonnes of DAP and 0.832 million tonnes of MOP.

According to another report, published in the Financial Express, the government has reduced its fertiliser-requirement target primarily to 6.4 million tonnes for the upcoming financial year from 6.56 million tonnes in the outgoing financial year.

It has fixed a target of using some 2.6 million tonnes of urea, 0.70 million tonnes of TSP, 1.5 million tonnes of DAE and 0.75 million tonnes of MOP, 0.55 million tonnes of gypsum, 0.141 million tonnes of zinc sulfate and 0.178 million tonnes of other fertilisers.

The maximum cutback happens to DAP, according to the FE report.

The report also said Bangladesh had nearly 1.7 million tonnes of fertiliser availability until June this year, including 0.75 million tonnes of urea, 0.395 million tonnes of DAP, 0.285 million tonnes of MOP, 0.215 million tonnes of TSP and others.

However, the USDA report predicts that Bangladesh might raise its retail price of fertiliser amid a surge in global price as well as a rise in subsidy.

But government officials interviewed by the FE ruled out such supply problem as well as price hike.

Balai Krishna Hazra, additional secretary at the ministry of agriculture (MoA), says the government has already provided above Tk 280 billion worth of farm subsidy in the outgoing FY.

"Necessary subsidy on fertiliser will continue also in the next FY to keep food prices within the reach of people," he adds.

He assures that there is nothing to worry as the government has already finalised import of a total 0.55 million tonnes of MOP from Canada while the private sector will bring another 0.2 million tonnes from other sources.

"So, a total availability of MOP might be 0.98 million tonnes in FY'23, including the current stock."

And the Prime Minister has already made it clear that maintaining robust growth of agricultural production will get top priority in coming years also.

Asked, he said the government has no plans to raise retail prices of fertiliser for now despite such rocketing hike in prices in the globe.

The current retail price of urea and DAP is Tk 16 a kg, TSP Tk 22 and MOP TK 15 a kg.

Global fertiliser prices increased by 80-200 per cent in a year as urea price surpassed $950 a tonne in May 2022 while DAP $1,000 a tonne.

The MOP price hit $560 a tonne amid the Russia-Ukraine war, which was a maximum of $205 a tonne in May 2021, according to global commodity portals.

Bangladesh has spent above Tk 280 billion as fertiliser subsidy so far in the FY'22 against an allocation of Tk 90 billion, according to the MoA.

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