Farmers have voiced harsh criticism over the sharp rise in price of fertilisers and expressed concern that the hike would place additional burden on the already suffering agriculture sector.

In a letter addressed to Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam, officials from the Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) remarked that a steep increase in prices of phosphorous and potash based fertilisers will aggravate troubles of the farmers.

It pointed out that the price of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) jumped from Rs3,800 in December 2020 to Rs5,300 in March 2021. Similarly, cost of nitrophosphate fertiliser soared to Rs3,500 in March from Rs2,700 in December 2020. The letter pointed out that sulfate of potash (SOP) became costlier by Rs300 since December 2020 to Rs4,800 during the ongoing month.

“The usage of phosphorous and potash is not optimum in Pakistan due to already high prices and this translates into lower crop yields,” said SAB Senior Vice President Mahmood Nawaz Shah while talking to The Express Tribune. “A further increase in their prices will discourage farmers from using these vital nutrients and raise the cost of production significantly.”

He highlighted that even before the spike in fertiliser prices, the cost of inputs in Pakistan stood significantly higher than India and the recent increase in fertiliser cost would hit the competitiveness of local farmers at the international level.

Shah urged the Ministry of National Food Security to take immediate notice of the soaring costs of inputs and introduce remedial measures to rationalise their prices in a bid to keep the rates of agricultural commodities under control. He termed it essential for Pakistan to devise a policy to enhance crop yield and productivity across the country.

A rise in input cost for growers will affect the cost of the final product, which means that the end consumer will suffer leading to difficulties for the government, said a former president of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). “The share of food in inflation basket is massive because it affects all sectors of the economy,” he highlighted, adding, “The government should take notice of the ongoing situation in the greater interest of the country.”

Pakistan Kissan Ittehad Secretary General Mian Umair Masood said that the price of DAP stood at Rs2,400 per bag in mid-2018, however, it has now skyrocketed to Rs5,200 per bag. Soaring global phosphorus prices are having a spillover impact on local supplies of fertilisers, said Insight Securities analyst Muhammad Shahroz.

According to industry sources, farmers have not received the subsidy announced by the government, said Taurus Securities analyst Ameer Hamza.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2021.

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