Farmers looted bags of DAP (diammonium phosphate) fertilizer from a warehouse in the third such incident in Chambal division of Madhya Pradesh in the last five days, police said. There is an acute shortage of urea, especially in the northern parts of the state just before the winter crop sowing season and farmers are becoming desperate, they added.
The farmers in the region have also resorted to blocking roads, demanding distribution of urea. Most of the warehouses are almost empty and the supply is not in consonance with the demand, said local government officials.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday said there was no shortage of fertilizer in the state. MP requires 4 lakh tonnes of urea for the Rabi season and the state has already received 2.5 lakh tonne, the CM said.
State home minister Narottam Mishra, however, said the administration is receiving reports of illegal hoarding and supply of sub-standard fertilizers in DAP bags and the government has decided to invoke the stringent national security act (NSA) against the businessman for black marketing and illegal hoarding of fertiliser.
On Monday farmers, who were waiting in the queue in grain market in Sabalgarh in Morena, looted more than 50 bags of fertilizer from a truck, police said. Police said a group of farmers stole fertilizer bags from warehouses of cooperative societies in Fup and Mehgaon area of Bhind in two separate incidents. An FIR has been registered only in one of these cases, police said.
State officials and experts said the major reasons behind the crisis are changes in crop pattern, black marketing and farmers defaulting on loan repayments. Farmers are eligible for fertilizer from the government at subsidised rates only if they have repaid loans.
Agriculture expert Vinayak Tomar said: “Nearly 61% of total mustard production of the state takes place in Morena, Bhind, Sheopur and Gwalior. With the sudden increase in the price of mustard from ₹4,800 per quintal to ₹8,000/per quintal, many farmers, who used to sow wheat and bajra, have started sowing mustard for winter crop also. Mid-September and October is the best time for sowing mustard so the demand for urea has increased suddenly. Earlier, there was a balance as for wheat, farmers need fertilizer by the end of October and in November.”
Then there is black marketing.
“The (state) agriculture department gives fertilizers to cooperative societies according to the agricultural land of registered farmers. There is a ban on open sale of fertilizers from the societies to stop black-marketing in UP and Rajasthan (the fertilizer from the state is illegally shipped there). Similarly, societies are not providing fertilizers to defaulter farmers, who have not cleared their loans,” said Shiv Mangal Singh, former president of district cooperative bank in Morena.
He added that private shops have stock of urea that are being sold at a premium of ₹200-300 for a 50 kg bag.
In the past two days, Gwalior and Morena district administration raided warehouses of two traders and recovered more than 200 bags, which were being hoarded.
A resident of Gurema village in Morena, Shankar Singh Jadon, 62, said, “This is the peak season of sowing and I am standing in queue daily for the past 15 days and I received only two bags for my three acres of land. At one time, the society manager is providing only two bags to a farmer. In the (open) market, the same bag is being sold at ₹1500. The government is promoting black marketing.”
Another farmer from Gormi in Bhind, Ran Singh Narwariya, said, “If we don’t find urea on time, sowing will be affected. The state government is compelling us either to borrow money to purchase the fertilizer in black or steal it from the warehouse.”
MP Kisan Congress president Dinesh Gurjar said, “The government should make fertilizer available within a week or we will intensify our protest.”
On Tuesday, Chouhan instructed all the collectors to ensure a smooth supply of fertilizers to farmers.
Farmers’ welfare and agricultural minister Kamal Patel said, “There is no crisis of fertilizer (availability) in MP and it is being supplied smoothly. Some defaulting farmers are creating a ruckus but we are ensuring that they get DAP (Di-ammonium Phosphate) bags at subsidized rates from the market. We are also conducting raids to stop the hoarding of fertilizers”.