TODAY -

Excess allocation, chronic urea shortage problem
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: August 21, 2021 -



ONLY time will tell whether or not the government constitutes an enquiry committee and investigates into suspicion cast over inter-connectivity between distribution and usage of urea fertiliser for agricultural purposes and poppy plantation.

But there seems to be some substance in the posers raised by Loumee Shinmee Apun Lup (LOUSAL), one of the farmers' bodies, over annual allocation of urea fertiliser by the Union government to Manipur and the perennial problem of shortage of the essential agricultural ingredient in the state every paddy crop plantation season.

As reported, the Lup holds the view that the root cause for the farmers facing urea shortage every year in-spite of the state receiving the same in sufficient quantity might be due to its diversion to poppy cultivators.

The Lup's demand for constituting an enquiry committee to probe into the urea distribution mechanism, area-specific utilisation and tabling report of the probe panel for deliberation in the assembly session might not materialise due to time constraints and technicalities, not to speak of the embarrassment it would cause to the agriculture department in case the proposed investigation actually establishes link between urea procurement of the government and the thriving business of poppy plantation.

Contrary to official figure of 1.95 lakh hectares of cultivable area in the state, the estimation of the Lup shrinks the size to around 81,180 hectares of paddy-land which need application of urea after deducting 88,820 hectares in the hills, 5000 hectares under MOMA's organic farming and 20,000 hectares of erstwhile prime agricultural land had submerged under water or lost owing to various projects.

The Lup also pointed out that as per estimate of the agriculture department, three 45-kg bags of urea are required in a hectare of farmland thereby implying that the state's annual requirement is only 2,43,000 bags of urea contrary to the Centre allocating 4,40,000 bags of urea.

As usual, either the farmers will purchase urea from the black market as its application is time-bound or the government succeeds in pacifying the food producers through bulk transportation.

However, there is every reason to suspect that the chronic problem of shortage of urea when it is most needed compared to the state receiving excess of 1,97,000 bags has something to do with the burgeoning areas under poppy plantation.

Regardless of the incumbent government pledging stringent measures to protect the future pillars of the society from the menace of substance abuse through launch of the 'war on drugs' mission, state and central forces regularly seizing substantial quantities of narcotic items, especially opium from different parts of the state indicates widespread poppy plantation.

If at all the Lup's suspicion over diversion of urea to poppy growers turns out to be true, then it could be safely stated that the 'war on drugs' will never bear fruit other than the mission providing bragging rights to the establishment-during election campaign at the cost of ruining the future of the upcoming generations.

As it is obvious that there would be no overnight success in the campaign against drugs, the government may prevent institutional abetment of the social menace by severing the urea-poppy link, if any, at any cost.



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