Farmers in Madhya Pradesh are forced to wait in long queues to buy fertiliser after a full stock became unfit for sale due to negligence of district officials. Weeks after the model code of conduct was imposed, officials failed to erase or cover up pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on fertiliser packets and now they can’t be legally distributed.
The model code of conduct, which was implemented in the state on October 9, dictates that state-distributed merchandise can not have photographs or symbols of any political party or leader. Upon receiving a complaint, the Election Commission ordered the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers to remove PM’s photo from the sacks.
But with no end to the shortage in sight and fearing delay in Rabi sowing season, anxious farmers are buying bags of fertiliser at over-inflated prices. Hari Singh Saini, a farmer from Entkhedi village near Bhopal, has managed to purchase only 15 bags of DAP, a phosphate-based fertiliser, for his 12-acre land. “Our expenses have gone up by 20%. It has become very difficult. We will end up with a lower yield, earning close to nothing from this crop,” he said.
In Bhopal’s Nipaniya Jat village, one farmer is being given one sack of DAP and two sacks of Urea. Even though fertiliser with the revised packaging is available, farmers complain of rising prices.
Lokendra Jat, a local farmer says a bag of urea which used to be 50 kg bag is now repackaged into 45 kg bags while the price remains the same. “A bag of DAP used to cost Rs 1,200 but its now Rs 1,365. The price of granular fertiliser has also gone up from Rs 310 to Rs 468. This will impact the yield,” he added.
Even though Rewa and Dewas are not facing a shortage due to incorrect packaging, farmers complain of waiting in queues for over five hours and forced to make two to three trips to get fertiliser just a few bags of fertiliser.
In Mandsaur, the revision of packaging has led to a confusion with even the correctly packaged fertiliser being distributed at slow rates. Ramesh Masare, a local Tehsildar told NDTV, that the long queues are caused by farmers from other districts coming there to buy fertiliser but denied any news of shortage.
As both BJP and Congress intensify their poll campaigns in the state, the issue also came up in the speeches of party leaders and Union ministers.
Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman claimed that there is no fertiliser shortage in the state and denied any long queues outside distribution centres. “When the BJP government is in power, there has never been any shortage of urea or fertiliser for the farmers. Delivery has been done on time to farmers without standing in queue. Even today, there is no problem in fertiliser distribution in Madhya Pradesh,” she said.
On the other hand, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi while addressing a rally in MP accused BJP of “cheating farmers and not doing anything for them”.
As per officials about 6.42 lakh metric tonnes of urea arrived in the state, 2.86 lakh metric tonnes has been sold with 3.56 lakh metric tonnes leftover. Out of the total 4.31 lakh metric tonnes of DAP, 2.03 lakh metric tonnes has been distributed.