Bihar witnesses violent protests over fertiliser shortage

Farmers loot fertiliser trucks and block roads; state blames Union government  

 
By Alok Gupta
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

DTE file photo Farmers in Bihar have started looting and blocking roads to protest against the shortage of fertilisers in the state.  Farmers are alleging that corrupt government officials have created an artificial crisis, leading to black marketing of fertilisers.

Farmers looted three truckloads of fertilisers in Khagaria and Madhepura districts on February 12 and 14. Protests are also being witnessed in Araria, Katihar, Bihta and Nalanda districts where farmers have resorted to road blockade.

Sachidanand Sharma, former president of Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) and a farmer leader, alleged that farmers are forced to buy a sack of fertilizer at Rs 700 against the government-fixed price of Rs 272.

“Government officials and private fertiliser distributors have created an artificial crisis to earn money. This has angered farmers to the extent that they have started looting fertiliser trucks,” Sharma said.

In Bihar, the state agriculture department prepares annual projected demand of fertilisers. The Union government sanctions the fertiliser supply.

Senior agriculture officials pointed out that the state’s Rainbow Revolution scheme to train farmers to boost farm produce has increased fertiliser consumption. In 2012-2013, farmers in Bihar used 4.6 million tonnes of fertilizers. In 2011-2012, they used nearly 3.8 million tonnes of fertilisers. Farmers in the state use three major fertilisers, urea, diammonium phosphate (DAP) and single super phosphate (SSP).

At present, farmers are facing acute crisis of urea. Last year, farmers used nearly 2,095,000 tonnes of urea in their fields. Dharmendra Singh, director agriculture, told Down To Earth that there is a crisis of fertiliser in the state but the crisis in not acute.

“We send demand for fertiliser to the Union government. Unfortunately, there is always a mismatch in the demand and supply of fertilisers, leading to crisis like situation,” he said. 

Singh assured that agriculture department has streamlined the supply chain after farmers’ protests that erupted across the state. Farmer leader Sharma refutes the claims of state government that the fertiliser supply has been streamlined.

Sharma says farmers, fearing loss of their crop, have started purchasing urea in black.

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