FocusIndia deals with ferts-based farmer agitation

11 June 2008 15:44  [Source: ICIS news]

By Aaron Rodrigues

MUMBAI (ICIS news)--Two days of protests by farmers in Maharashtra and Karnataka states about the low supply of fertilizers ahead of the kharif season have been brought under control, an Indian government official said on Wednesday.

“Early rains that fell on the 20 May ahead of the kharif [October 2008 to March 2009] season, which normally begins from the first or second week of June, led to the agitation,” a senior government official told ICIS news.

Transportation problems due to Gujjar caste agitation in Rajasthan and Delhi were holding up the delivery of fertilizers and fuelling the protests, the official added.

A public relation officer at the state government of Maharashtra added that a lack of wagons for transporting fertilizer has caused the agitation.

He also added the state’s chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was in Delhi meeting Prime Minster Manmohan Singh and railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to make additional wagons available for fertilizer transports.

However, officials from the Karnataka state governments have said that the central government's lack of coordination, lower fertilizer imports and the rise in the prices of subsidies has resulted in farmer agitations.

An official from the Federation of Farmer Assoications (FFA) said that fertilizer companies have cut back on production and supplies due to non-payment of subsidies by the government.

“In Karnataka fertilizers are there but the goods are not given in one go, rather in phases,” said Basavaraj Ingin, a farmer leader in the state.

“The officials in Karnataka have failed to coordinate and implement the supply of fertilizers,” an FFA official said.

One person was shot dead in Karnataka’s Haveri district during the protests and several were injured; officials have not confirmed whether the individual was a farmer.

“What is required in Karnataka is redistribution of fertilizers,” he added.

Another official said the government is meeting demand for diammonium phosphate [DAP] and complex fertilizers in Karnataka for the kharif season, which has been put at 121,000 tonnes and 110,000 tonnes respectively, adding that the demand for all fertilizers this season has increased around 6-7%.

The official added that agriculture output for the year would not be affected and the government expected a bumper output.

Any decline in farm output could result in a further spike in food prices, analysts said.

According to media reports, the parliamentary standing committee on chemicals and fertilizers would meet tomorrow to discuss the crisis.

Other reports said that in towns such as Hingoli in Maharashtra, fertilizer distribution is being held at police stations or under supervisions.

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By: Staff Reporter
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