Farmers in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district have raised concern over the rising prices of fertilisers amid the grim COVID-19 situation and sought help from the government ahead of the upcoming sowing season.
When contacted, state Agriculture Minister Dada Bhuse told PTI that they have written to the central government to reduce the prices of fertilisers.
Notably, the Centre recently said it is considering subsidies to offset rise in global prices of raw materials of phosphatic and potassic (P&K) fertilisers in a bid to ensure their availability to farmers at subsidised rates across the country.
The government said it was taking all necessary steps to safeguard the interests of farmers during the COVID-19 crisis.
Farmer Deepak Joshi from Devgaon in Paithan said the rising prices of fertilisers have upset his farming budget.
He said his crop yield last year got sold at lower prices than normal as there were no buyers due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
"Government agencies suggest the use of fertilisers while sowing seeds. Not only fertilisers, but the cost of every activity has gone up due to a fuel price hike. Earlier, two bags of fertilisers used to cost around Rs 1,100 each. Now, each bag costs around Rs 1,925," he said.
Farmer Ishwar Sapkal from Soyegaon town also expressed similar woes.
"To cultivate jowar for a yield of 100 kg of grains, we need 25 kg fertiliser which costs Rs 1,000 now. Last time, I fetched a price of Rs 1,000 per quintal for my jowar crop. So there was no profit at all," he said.
Sakpal has 40 acres of land and this year, he has taken up the cultivation of turmeric, ginger and cotton which need less amount of fertilisers as compared to other crops.
Kalidas Apet, working president of the pro-farmer outfit Shetkari Sanghatna, said the increase in rates of fertilisers is justified only if farmers get the right price for their produce.
Local agriculture expert Vijayanna Borade said the current second wave of COVID-19 coupled with the fuel price hike and rising prices of fertilisers were a big cause of worry for farmers.
"The government gave Rs 2,000 each to farmers through the Kisan Samman Yojana, but it has got neutralised with the fertiliser price hike. The Kharif season yield this year may go down and cause a shortage of food grains," Borade claimed.