Okara farmers face urea fertiliser crisis | The Express Tribune


OKARA:

Farmers are facing a urea fertiliser crisis due to alleged negligence of the district administration. Growers are found waiting in long queues at government depots to buy then fertilizer and a large number of them remain deprived of the agricultural input.

On the other hand, hoarders are benefitting from the situation by exploiting the farmers. Some farmers allege that the dealers are fleecing them in connivance with officials of the departments responsible to ensure a smooth supply of fertilisers.

More than 80 per cent area of Okara is very fertile and the local agricultural commodities market is considered to among the largest in the region. The district is known around the world for its corn and potato production.

While the residents of 80% of the area of the district are entirely dependent on agriculture, the shortage of urea fetiliser at the time of sowing of crops is a major economic threat for the farmers. Currently, there is a severe shortage of urea fertiliser in Okara city as well as Renala Khurd and Depalpur tehsils.

Read Tarin satisfied with urea availability situation

While farmers face extreme difficulties in buying the fertiliser at official rates, influential hoarders have reportedly stored millions of sacks in their warehouses. The hoarding has caused a urea fertiliser crisis in Okara after that of sugar experienced earlier.

Farmers say a sufficient amount of urea fertiliser is not available in the markets, including the government dealers. There are long queues of farmers outside stores where only a few hundred sacks of fertiliser are available.

Many farmers return to their villages empty-handed in the evening after waiting for the whole day. Despite the complaints, district administration officials appear helpless to overcome the crisis, while trying give an impression of improving the situation through official reports.

Major fertiliser dealers of ten areas are allegedly earning millions of rupees overnight by selling fertilisers at exorbitant prices. While the price fixed by the government is Rs1,870, a sack of urea fertiliser is reportedly being sold in the black market for Rs3,000.

An agricultural landowner from Baseerpur, Fakhar Hayat Wattoo warned while speaking to The Express Tribune that if the current situation continues, not only would the farmers face losses in next season, but the production of crops would also drop.

He said senior agricultural officers and provincial government leaders should take measures to end the artificial shortage of urea fertiliser in Okara district, pay surprise visits to markets to observe the situation and take action against alleged incompetence and negligence of the administration officials.

Another farmer said millions bags of fertilizer allegedly hoarded by the dealers should be seized and sold at government rates along with action against the mafia. He said it was high time to provide relief to the growers. So far, the district administration appears to have remained inactive in resolving the issue, he alleged. The deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner of Okara were not available for comment.

 




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