Lack of fertilizer in rural India threatens to disrupt winter planting, leading to unrest among key farmers in the country ahead of crucial government elections next year.
Disappointed farmers in central and northern India flooded government shops selling ordinary fertilizers and protested against police who used force to control the population. In some states, the police have seized bags of fertilizer from the police to enforce the law.
Farmers, frustrated by the long queues for snake bites, have protested against the demand for fertilizer. It contains essential nutrients such as diammonium phosphate or DAP, which are needed to grow wheat, mustard and other crops sown during the rabies season or winter.
Yograj Singh, a farmer in Amritsar, Punjab province, states: “Only one or two vehicles reach a thousand people waiting to be picked up.
Singh had just returned home from a frustration after trying to get in line for a fertilizer at 4:30 am. “I want at least seven bags but so far I have found only three after trying it for days,” he said. “We want it now.”
Fertilizer shortages threaten pre-emptive elections in early 2022, including in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Farmers are an important political force in a country where many people depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihood.
The BJP has been struggling for over a year to end it Thousands of farmers’ demonstrations seeking the repeal of a number of laws that bring about market changes in an economy that is largely driven by agriculture. The farmers’ protesters said the change threatened their lives.
The Modi government, however, denies that the fertilizer is in short supply, condemning frustration over the rumors that are causing the rise. In November “the availability will exceed the international demand,” said Mansukh Mandaviya, minister of medicine and fertilizer.
He also warned against taking strong action against those “who start selling black fertilizer using rumors as a shield”.
Rising global fertilizer prices, declining productivity during the epidemic and the disruption of resources have caused problems. But opponents have criticized Modi’s government for delaying imports. India exports up to one third of the fertilizer for domestic use.
“It is a matter of authority,” said Ajay Vir Jakhar, chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj, an Indian farmers’ association. “I think the government has disrupted it because the subsidy share has gone up and the government has not decided to spend more.”
The government provides subsidies to companies that sell fertilizers to farmers at low prices in the market. Last month the government announced another RS57.16bn ($ 758m) grant for DAP to keep prices down.