TODAY -

Why not increase fertiliser distribution points ?
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: July 13, 2022 -



WITHOUT an iota of doubt, farmers and their organisations continuing to raise hue and cry against sloppy handling of the fertiliser distribution system, implies that the Agriculture Department is yet to learn any lesson in-spite of the fertiliser issue cropping up every year during the prime paddy cultivation period.

The incident at the Lamphel office of District Agriculture Officer (DAO) on Monday where angry farmers stormed the ware house of the office, pulled out and spilled several bags of fertiliser and rained stones at the office underscored growing frustration and anxiety of the food producers owing to failure of the department to provide the essential agricultural ingredient when it is most needed.

Interestingly, Imphal West DAO S Kenedy, reacting to the violent agitation, contended that urea distribution will continue every day on first come first serve basis apart from conceding that it would be impossible to distribute 4000-5000 bags of urea in a day.

If at all the department is convinced that it wouldn't be able to meet the demand of the farmers then arrangement could have been made for distribution of the same at the sub-divisional or block level as had been the proposal of the farmers ever since the paddy plantation activities commenced nearly a month back.

Initially, the explanation by the department, purportedly aimed at diluting the outcries was that farmers started the cultivation works ahead of schedule due to the pre-monsoon rainfall but soon changed the narrative to assert that there is sufficient stock of fertiliser in the state and no genuine farmers would be deprived of the plant food.

While distribution of fertilisers by local MLAs as well as former people's representatives and political figures suggests adequate availability of the fertiliser stock, farmers in the valley districts, which have been the rice bowl of the state, compelled to wait in long queues at designated offices hours before daybreak rings out the message that the department is yet to streamline the distribution mechanism.

As such Monday's incident at the Imphal West DAO office demonstrated desperation of the farmers to possess a bag or two of fertiliser for timely application of the same failing which the crop yield would decline.

To avoid recurrence of such ugly incidents, it is recommended that either the department engage additional staffers and lengthen the distribution hours instead of sticking to the usual office hour activities or set up more distribution points to avoid the rush.

The department should acknowledge that as majority of the state's farmers are not financially sound they would definitely want to procure the fertiliser at the government fixed rate rather than spent their meagre savings to purchase the government-controlled item from the black market.

Moreover, if the farmers can't be ensured of a handful of bags of fertiliser that too only once or twice in a calendar year, then it is obvious that there would be suspicion over the integrity and administrative efficiency of the department officials as well as the minister concerned.

Recurrence of the same old problem every yeatr unargu-ably testifies callousness of the department authorities, and deepens the suspicion that the delay in distribution of fertiliser is intended to save the stock procured at subsidised rate for export to neighbouring Myanmar or sell them to poppy growers.



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