|Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Imphal, Aug. 28: Farmers of Manipur today petitioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make fertilisers available at affordable prices.
In a memorandum sent today, the North East Dialogue Forum, an Imphal-based NGO, alleged that prices of fertilisers have increased in Manipur because of irregularities in the distribution system and black marketing. It urged Singh to institute an inquiry into the fertiliser market in the state.
The forum, on behalf of farmers from all the nine districts of Manipur, sent similar memoranda to Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, DoNER minister Paban Singh Ghatowar and chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh.
Representatives of farmers from the nine districts of Manipur today gathered here to discuss the problem of fertiliser scarcity.
“A bag of urea that has a maximum retail price tag of Rs 289.36 is sold at Rs 600-650 in Churachandpur district. Many farmers could not afford to buy it while some had to borrow money. The farmers will find it very difficult to repay the loans,” Chung-neiren Kom, a farmer from Churachandpur district, said.
Farmers from other districts have similar tales to tell. They said though the prices were high, fertiliser was not available.
“The government’s failure to provide fertiliser in time to farmers at affordable prices goes against the spirit of the National Food Security Bill. To make the food security scheme a success, the country needs to increase foodgrain production. The Centre should look into the matter,” Kh. Rebati Raman, a spokesperson for the forum, said.
He said unless farmers were given incentives and fertilisers at subsidised or affordable rates in time, the objective of the food security scheme would be defeated as foodgrain production would come down.
The memorandum said of the 1,95,000 hectares of paddy fields in Manipur, more than 40,000 hectares are being cultivated without fertilisers. About 40 per cent of the state’s farmers borrowed money to buy fertilisers, it added.
The memorandum alleged that a large chunk of fertilisers meant for the farmers of Manipur was being diverted for poppy cultivation. Poppy is extensively cultivated in the hill districts of Manipur.
The memorandum demanded setting up of a special investigation team to look into the problem of rising fertiliser prices and find out the cause for the scarcity.
“We urge the Prime Minister, chief minister and the governor to introduce a policy for agriculture,” the memorandum said.