Food security to be at risk
Golam Mostafa Jibon: The government is now in fear of facing acute crisis of fertilizer in the upcoming Boro season due to global scarcity of power and energy that severely hits production and supply of fertilizer. Meanwhile, closure of two fertilizer factories in the country and price hike of fertilizer and other raw materials in the international market hint such feasibility. As a result, farmers are apprehending to face terrible situation in future. Besides, the government fears that the Boro production target may not be achieved, if the situation is not come under control shortly.
It is to be mentioned that, the Boro farming is going to be started in the upcoming January. But, it may be difficult to maintain a strong supply chain in this sector due to drop of fertilizer production. Relevant sources said that, a large portion of imported fertilizer comes from Russia.
But after the beginning of Ukraine-Russia war, fertilizer import from Russia is being hampered drastically centering the unstable situation. In this situation, the government has become sure to import only potassium from Canada even with high prices. But, the government has not yet been get any green signal over import of Urea fertilizer from anywhere especially from Middle East. All in all,a negative impact is likely to fall in all fields including consumer level after next January due to fertilizer scarcity. It may hurt food security in the country.
If the prices of fertilizers are increased, the prices of all commodities including rice will be increased.
AgricultureMinister Abdul Razzak said, various steps are being taken with extreme caution to deal with the fertilizer crisis. Now, there is no high pressure.
But, pressure may be created after January. Efforts are being made to overcome the situation.”
But, he did not reveal details of how this crisis can be resolved.
Director (Commercial) of Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC), which is under the Ministry of Industries, Kazi Mohammad Saiful Islam said, “Urea Fertilizer factory in Chattogram and Jamuna Fertilizer factory in Jamalpur have stopped production of fertilizersdue to gas shortage. This may reduce the domestic production target by half.”
“It is possible to fill up the deficit by importing fertilizers from Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar and Morocco. The government already gathers fertilizers from these countries in the Middle East. But now as the crisis has taken a serious turn, the government has requested the countries to supply much more fertilizers to Bangladesh,” he added.
In response to the question whether the countries of the Middle East have agreed to give more fertilizer, he said, I hope they will agree and give fertilizer to Bangladesh according to the market price.
Meanwhile, it is said that the crisis of fertilizer was discussed in the Cabinet recently. Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam said that some fertilizer factories are closed in the country. It is feared that there will be shortage of fertilizers. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the Ministry of Agriculture to decide what to do to overcome the fertilizer crisis. Efforts are also being made to bring fertilizers from Russia, Belarus and Canada. It is expected that everything will be normal by next September.
The Minister of Agriculture Abdur Razzak declined about the discussion of fertilizer in the last cabinet. He however, said that, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given some instructions on it. We are working accordingly. However, there is a little problem due to excessive increase in the price of fertilizers in the international market.”
Talking to the concerned people, it is known that after the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, the government is facing huge problems in the import of fertilizers. Despite being an agricultural country, a large part of the demand for fertilizers is met by imports from abroad. But regardless of the import price, the government sells the fertilizer to the farmer at a nominal price by adding a subsidy. Fertilizer prices have almost tripled in the international market in the last one year.
According to Bangladesh Fertilizer Association, Bangladesh needs 26.5 lakh tons of urea fertilizer every year. But, the Agriculture Minister claimed that,there is needed only 25 lakh tons of fertilizer in the country. Of them, about 10 lakh tons are produced in Bangladesh, while rest is imported from UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
It has been indicated that about 22 lakh tons of fertilizer will have to be imported due to low production this time.
Chairman of Bangladesh Fertilizer Association Kamrul Ashraf Khan said that, the stock of urea will continue till next season. Besides, tenders have been made for other fertilizers. About 7.5 lakh tons of TSP fertilizer is required. But production in the country is only 1 lakh ton. The rest is imported from Morocco, Tunisia. About 16.5 lakh tons of DAP fertilizer is required here. Of them, 15.5lakh tons are imported from China and Jordan. The demand for MOP fertilizer is 8 lakh tons, all of which is imported from Belarus, Russia and Canada.
Regarding dealing with the crisis, he said, no decision has been taken yet. There are various ministries of the government, we will meet with them on what to do next. But the date of that meeting has not yet been fixed.
Talking to the Ministry of Agriculture and Industry, it is known that the government of Bangladesh has always been subsidizing agricultural equipment and materials due to being an agricultural country. The amount of that subsidy has also increased a lot in the last era. The government had to give subsidy of Tk 8000 crores for fertilizer. Recently, the government had to give subsidy of Tk 30,000 crores only for fertilizer. The Fertilizer Association thinks that more subsidies will be given this time. Various international organizations including the World Bank and IMF have been advising the Bangladesh government to move away from the subsidy. But the government is not taking into account the issue of giving up the subsidy for the benefit of the farmers.
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