Laxmi Capital News
Fertilizers import up 10 pc

The import offertilizers (chemical and organic combined) in the first 10 months of thecurrent fiscal year has surged by nearly half compared to import figures of thesame period of Fiscal Year 2016/17.

Accordingto Department of Customs, Nepal imported Rs 12.9 billion worth of fertilizer inthe first 10 months of FY 2017/18, compared to Rs 7.3 billion worth of importsover the first 10 months of last fiscal year.

InFY2016/17, Nepal had imported fertilizers worth Rs 11.5 billion.

Whileofficials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperativesattribute the rise in fertilizers imports to increased supply to farmers,farmer leaders termed such a huge leap in import as 'unnatural'.

DoCreport suggests that only 1.1 percent of the imported fertilizers is organic,while the remaining 98.2 percent are mineral or chemical fertilizers.

Althoughknowledgeable sources say that production and use of organic fertilizers isgrowing in the country, they claim that farmers in tarai region of Nepal seldomuse organic fertilizers. They are more inclined to using chemical fertilizerssuch as urea, the sources added.

Theimport of fertilizers made up of organic material such as vegetables and animalwaste has fallen by 9.6 percent i.e. from Rs 151.4 million worth of organicfertilizers to Rs 136.8 million in the first 10 months of FY 2017/18.

Meanwhile,the import of mineral-based chemical fertilizers is increasing significantly.Nitrogenous fertilizers such as urea worth Rs 7.1 billon entered the country inthe first 10 months of FY2017/18. Such import was worth only Rs 2.1 billion inthe same period of FY2016/17.

Whileurea provides nitrogen to plants resulting in a rapid growth, the effect itsoveruse can cause to soil is detrimental.

Likewise,there imports of phosphorus-based chemical fertilizers surged by over ninetimes in the review period. The DoC report states that the import of suchfertilizes surged from Rs 20.1 million in first months of FY2016/17 to Rs 188.2million in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year.

Likewise,the import of fertilizers consisting of two or more elements have alsoincreased by 12.5 percent to Rs 5.2 billion in the review period of FY2017/18compared to Rs 4.6 billion in the same period of last fiscal year.

Theimport of potassium-based fertilizers however fell to Rs 437.7 million in thefirst 10 months of FY2017/18, compared to Rs 82.96 million worth of imports inthe first 10 months of last fiscal year.

Speakingwith Republica, Mani RatnaAryal, senior agriculture economist and informationofficer with the ministry, stated: “There has been a steep increase in importof fertilizers and the reason behind this is that the government has been ableto properly supply fertilizers to farmers. Although there used to be a short supplyof fertilizers in the market in previous years, this was not the case thisyear.”

Accordingto Aryal, the government also provided large amount fertilizers to farmersaffected by floods on grants.

Regardingthe excessive import of chemical fertilizers, Aryal stated that farmers,particularly those in the tarai region, have been utilizing chemicalfertilizers like urea in the hope of rapid production. “However, such chemicalfertilizers have adverse effect on soil quality. I feel that proper marketingof organic fertilizers has not been done as much as chemical fertilizers. So,it is important to set up distribution centers specifically for organicfertilizers,” he added.

UddhavAdhikari, chairperson of National Farmers Group Federation (NFGF), told Republicathat the growth in import of fertilizer is not natural. “Majority of farmers inthe tarai region use chemical fertilizers as use of organic manure is not socommon there. Moreover, the manure produced is used to generate energy,” headded. “The government must prioritize traditional farming along with livestockto curb the use of chemical fertilizers.”

Source:MyRepublica, 7th June 2018

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