Ministry voices doubt on drop in fertiliser prices

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research has raised doubt about the authenticity of data reported by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) that claims a decline in fertiliser prices

It argued that the situation was not good as farmers were still facing shortage of fertiliser in the market

In a meeting of the Fertiliser Review Committee held on December 24, 2021, the ministry’s additional secretary stated that although the price data reported by the PBS was showing a decrease, on the ground the situation was not good as there was a strong perception of urea shortage in the market

He pointed out that people were standing in queues to receive urea fertiliser, which did not paint a good picture for the upcoming wheat crop

The committee met under the chairmanship of minister of industries and production to review the availability and supply of fertiliser

Punjab chief secretary, via video link, informed the meeting that currently there was gap between demand and supply of urea, but the demand was not based on actual requirement, rather the expected demand was augmented

On the basis of daily dispatch data, district administrations were selling urea under their supervision, he said, adding that they would require daily supply of around 20,000 tons whereas they were being provided 13,000 to 14,000 tons

He requested that supplies may be increased further so that the situation could be brought under control

Punjab chief secretary also highlighted the slippage of fertiliser through the border districts of Punjab and Sindh

This fertiliser landed in Balochistan and from there onwards it was supplied to Afghanistan, which he said needed to be addressed as urea prices in Afghanistan stood at around Rs6,000 per bag

Sindh agriculture secretary also highlighted that the province was facing acute dearth of urea due to alleged hoarding

He emphasised that supplies should be made better so that demand could be met

Sindh director general (agri-extension) informed the committee that 97% plantation had been done, adding that fertiliser supplies needed to be increased so that next year’s wheat crop target could be achieved

Minister of industries and production, at the conclusion of the meeting, stressed that based on the discussion the perception of shortage should be addressed collectively by the government and the industry

Daily supplies by fertiliser companies needed to be further jacked up by 3,000 tons per day while Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL)-based plants should run at full capacity to meet demand for the Rabi sowing season 2021-22, he said

The Petroleum Division should ensure the maintaining of gas pressure for fertiliser plants during the winter season, the meeting was told

A media campaign should also be launched by the companies, stating that all their units were operational and there was no shortage

Additional secretary told the meeting that due to low gas pressure in December, it was likely that the cumulative urea production in the month would be around 560,000 tons against the estimate of 583,000 tons done by the National Fertiliser Development Centre (NFDC)

Furthermore, he said, if SNGPL-based and other plants continued to operate for the rest of Rabi months, ie February and March, then at the end of sowing season, the country would have a healthy urea inventory

Urea prices, as reported by the PBS, had also come down since December 21, 2021, he pointed out

Agritech CEO stated that the country was facing production shortfall of around 180,000 tons on account of closure of two SNGPL-based plants during summer months

However, in the current international scenario for urea fertiliser, Pakistan has adequate installed capacity to meet demand depending on SNGPL-based plants being kept operational for the rest of the year, the CEO said

FFC group general manager (marketing) informed the meeting that supplies were being managed as per demand and the company was doing its best to supply urea across the country

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2022

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Date:03-Jan-2022 Reference:View Original Link