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There is an energy and food crisis all over the world. None of the global supply systems are in a normal state. In the midst of this, if we want to produce more food, we need to maintain the supply of fertilizer as it is directly linked to food production.

Fertilizers are essential for crop production systems in modern agriculture. Among the regulators affecting agricultural production, fertilizers play a very important role in increasing yield. In fact, the success of Bangladesh’s agricultural production system depends on inorganic fertilizers. Because these fertilizers are responsible for 50% of the total production. However, the contribution of fertilizers to agricultural production also depends on the crop, crop density, season, soil properties and management, etc.

Chemical (inorganic) fertilizers were introduced in Bangladesh in the early 1950s as an additional source of plant nutrients. But with the introduction and expansion of modern crop varieties and the creation of irrigation facilities, the use of these fertilizers has steadily increased since the mid-1960s. The trend towards increased use of fertilizers, particularly urea nitrogen, continues.

Due to the increase in the price of fertilizers on the international market and the Russian-Ukrainian war, the government of Bangladesh has to buy fertilizers at least three times more expensive. On the other hand, the prices of fertilizers sold at subsidized prices on the local market are not able to increase. As a result, the amount of the subsidy increases. The government of Bangladesh describes it as “the two crises”.

Although Bangladesh is a major agricultural country, almost all of its fertilizer needs are imported from abroad. But regardless of the import price, the government sells the fertilizer to the farmer at a nominal price, adding a subsidy. But over the past year, the price of fertilizers on the international market has almost tripled. Bangladesh is taking several new steps in agriculture.

Most of the fertilizers we need in our country have to be imported from abroad. But due to the coronavirus, the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war and rising oil prices, fertilizer prices have risen a lot. Fertilizer factories in many countries have closed, they have stopped or reduced exports. As a result, the demand has increased relative to the supply, so the price has also increased.

Urea, TSP, DAP and MOP fertilizers are mainly used in agriculture in Bangladesh. But a year ago, a metric ton of urea was bought for 500 dollars on the international market, but now it exceeds 800 dollars. The price of TSP fertilizer is 200/300 dollars but it is sold at 600/700 dollars. As a result, the government is forced to purchase fertilizers at higher prices.

With the increase in oil prices, the cost of transportation has also increased. This also adds to the price.

According to the media, Bangladesh needs 26.5 lakh tons of urea fertilizer every year. But the production in Bangladesh is around 10 lakh tons. The rest of the demand is imported from Russia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Seven and a half tons of TSP fertilizer are needed. But the production in the country is one lakh metric tons. The rest is imported from Morocco, Tunisia. 1.6 lakhs of DAP fertilizer is needed. Of this total, 1.5 million metric tons of fertilizer are imported from abroad. This fertilizer is mainly imported from China and Jordan. The demand for MOP fertilizer is 8 lakhs, all imported from Belarus, Russia and Canada.

The production of urea-based fertilizers could have been increased in the country. But our country does not have mines of raw materials for the production of other fertilizers. These raw materials can be imported from abroad rather less than the cost of production by importing them into the country. For this reason, many major agricultural countries, including neighboring India, import these fertilizers from certain countries, which have mines and factories for these raw materials.

But this industry is also under pressure due to the gas crisis, the lack of raw materials, the Russian-Ukrainian war, the coronavirus. Many countries have restricted the export of fertilizers to increase their production. For example, China is the world’s largest exporter of DAP fertilizer, but the country has banned the export of this fertilizer until June 2022.

According to the media, Bangladesh does not lack urea until December, which means there will be no crisis during the Aman season. But Bangladesh must look beyond Aman and towards Boro, which is the largest crop and requires 60% of fertilizer supplies. An agreement was reached on Friday between Moscow and Kyiv to authorize Ukrainian grain exports, which have been interrupted since February. About 22 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain trapped in silos will now be sold on the international market.

Therefore, it is possible that similar agreements on the sale of fertilizers will also be concluded, especially since the US government is secretly encouraging shipping and agricultural companies to buy and transport more Russian fertilizers. However, even if Russian fertilizers are more widely available.

Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, the Minister of Agriculture, told the media on July 20: “It is sad that the local production of urea-based fertilizers has ceased due to a shortage of gas. But whatever the cost, we have already started taking steps to collect urea from different sources. »

Fertilizers are one of Russia’s main exports to Bangladesh. Due to the sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, Bangladesh has to look elsewhere and pay more for its fertilizer needs. Belarus, a major fertilizer supplier to Bangladesh, has also been hard hit by the conflict.

Bangladesh still sells fertilizer to farmers at subsidized prices, even though it is purchased at a higher price on the world market.

Being an agricultural country, the government of Bangladesh has always subsidized agricultural equipment and materials. Over the past century, the amount of this subsidy has increased significantly.

But it is hopeful news that the Ministry of Agriculture has ordered the regular operation of a mobile court to avoid an artificial shortage of fertilizers or anyone can charge high prices. He said the country has sufficient stock of fertilizer, there is no chance of fertilizer shortage anywhere. He therefore gave this instruction as part of a regular follow-up.

On Sunday, August 21, the Secretary of Agriculture gave these instructions to field officers during a virtual meeting on the “overall fertilizer situation review” at the Secretariat. At the meeting, the deputy directors of agricultural extension directorate in each district highlighted the overall fertilizer situation.

The agriculture secretary said agriculture officials should take extra care if some people were deliberately trying to catch fish in the troubled waters by spreading rumours. At the end of the discussion, the Secretary of Agriculture gave some instructions to the field agents to ensure the proper distribution and sale of fertilizers.

He said monitoring should be stepped up to the union level to ensure concessionaires lift allocated fertilizers on time. Some dealers ration the sale of fertilizers due to the non-removal of allocated fertilizers on time, which is completely illegal. As a result, a kind of artificial fear is created among the farmers at the field level. Fertilizers should not be sold without a receipt. The fertilizer price list is to be displayed digitally or digitally in dealer and retailer stores. The secretary also said to confirm the arrival of fertilizer by visiting the dealer’s warehouse.

Apart from this, the agriculture department will maintain close contact with the district administration and upazila administration and should organize regular mobile courts. Any information or news of fertilizer sales at higher prices should be reported immediately and disciplinary action should be taken against the dealers involved.

At the upazila level, under the chairmanship of the executive director of the upazila, the upazila agricultural officer, police officers and dealers should be briefed on the adequacy of fertilizers, including farmers, public officials and journalists.

According to the media, he was informed during the meeting that there is sufficient stock of all kinds of fertilizers in the country compared to the demand. At present (August 21), the stock of urea fertilizer is 6 lakh 49,000 metric tons, TSP 3 lakh 94,000 tons, DAP 7 lakh 36,000 tons, MOP 2 lakh 73,000 tons. Compared to the current stock of fertilizer, the demand for fertilizer in Amon season (August to October) is 6 lakh 19 thousand tons of urea, 1 lakh 19 thousand tons of TSP, 2 lakh 25 thousand tons of DAP, 1 lakh 37 thousand tons of MOP.

The current stock of fertilizer is higher than the same period last year. At the same time last year, the stock of urea fertilizer was 6 lakh 06,000 metric tons, TSP 2 lakh 27,000 tons, DAP 5 lakh 56,000 tons and MOP 1 lakh 96,000 tons.

Thelma J. Longworth