It is indeed a bold, yet appreciating gesture from the new Agriculture Minister, Th Biswajit Singh that there will be no shortage of Urea in the State. We are happy to hear such bold statement from the Minister. Despite Manipur getting twice the supply of Urea, every year there is shortage of urea. The reasons might be loopholes in the transportation, distribution or reaching the farmers directly on time.
Minister Biswajit’s commitment to providing Urea to the farmers might be simple, as it sounds. But, we heard the same lines from different Agri Ministers in the past. Yet, they fail to provide Urea to the farmers on time. Last year, few farmers have resorted to hunger strike. The new Agri Minister have to face every obstacles to wipe the tears of farmers. Th Biswajit is standing tough on Urea in the State.
After taking charges as State Agriculture Minister, Th Biswajit started preparation to help the farmers.
One may say farmers are suffering due to excessive involvement of elected representatives and few Civil society organisations. Farmers are not happy to see MLAs distributing Urea like PDS items. There should be proper channel for distributing Urea to every Village. Urea is like medicine. When the crops failed to get urea on time, there is no use later on. Crops might fail and productivity decline, leading to shortages of food grains in the State.
Every year Centre sends more than 4,40,000 bags of urea to Manipur. It is estimated that paddy field in the state is roughly 80,000 hectares. If a farmer use 3 bags of Urea per hectare, then State require only 2,40,000 bags of Urea. It seems more than 2,00,000 bags of Urea are lost in Manipur.
However, official data shows the total cultivable area of the State as 1.95 lakhs hectares, out of which 5000 hectares are under Manipur Organic Mission Agency (MOMA) which is practicing Organic and another 20,000 hectares are now submerged or lost due to the construction of buildings and other commercial properties.
Even if we follow the official data, thousands of Urea bags will be left in the Agri Department godown after properly distributing to the farmers. This need to be checked by the Minister on a priority basis. Th Biswajit must stay connected with the farmers, or else the black marketers will definitely create hurdles in the supply of Urea to the farmers.
Minister Biswajit need to take bold steps against the system of Urea distribution, right from transporting from outside. The policy might be cumbersome, but if implemented properly it will successfully make our farmers happy in the coming Kharif season.
It would be helpful if District Agri officers and Sub Divisional Agri officers prepare records of total area of paddy fields under their jurisdiction. For this, they may inform the farmers to contact them right now, much before the start of Kharif season. This will take hardly 30 days to get accurate records of paddy fields.
The Minister may then focus on transporting the Urea well in advance before rainy seasons. This will help the transporters to escape from natural calamities like landslides along the Highways.
Once the season for distribution of Urea is ready, the Minister may instruct the concerned departments and distribute it as per the size of areas under block level. This system will help to curb black marketers as well. Stringent action should be taken against backdoor agents and distributors who siphoned off truckloads of Urea using the recommendation of MLAs or Ministers.
We heard about Urea being smuggled to neighboring states and Myanmar. Reports are also coming from neighboring states of Assam and Mizoram that huge consignments of Urea is smuggled into Myanmar. Even in our state, this is smuggled frequently which needs to be checked by the new government.
Besides, poppy cultivation in the hills required huge amount of Urea. Farmer associations are suspecting that State quota of Urea must be diverting to poppy cultivation. Recent reports on “War on Drugs” exposed several areas of the hill districts into poppy plantations. This widespread poppy cultivation might be one factor for shortages of Urea in the State.
Most of the fish farms in the State are now using Urea in huge quantities. A normal paddy farmer requires Urea specifically for 10-30 days during the cultivation of paddy or other vegetable crops. But for fish farmers, the demand for urea is the whole year.
Agriculture Department needs to be vigilant on the clarion call for the new Agri Minister to double the Farmer’s income as well. This will be possible only when farmers are provided the fertilizers, seeds, machinery and other technology as per their requirements.
Minister Biswajit must remember that the State has been achieving several awards in Agriculture, and he should continue to receive more laurels for the State and in the interest of the farmers. During this fiscal year, PM Narendra Modi is focusing on Agriculture and there are huge funds allocated for the farming sector.