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EXCLUSIVE: Manipur farmers yearn for single window system to get fertilizers

File photo of farmers standing in queue to obtain fertilizers

The farmers are of the opinion that the present procurement system is not suitable for the COVID-19 pandemic situations. 

TFM Report

Amidst the raging COVID-19 pandemic and the impending farming season of rice plantation, which is the staple food of the state, farmers of Manipur are complaining about the complicated system of the Manipur Government in the distribution of fertilizers. Farmers are urging the state government to change the present system which they said is taking two to three days to get the fertilizers. 

They also alleged that when the government is not able to freely provide fertilizers, it is widely available in the market. The farmers have urged the authorities to probe into the possible scam in the supply of fertilizers in the market. 

The issue of farmers unable to get the fertilizers in time is not new; in fact, it happens almost every year. On July 4, agriculture minister Oinam Lukhoi flagged off truckloads of fertilizers to different districts of the state. Even though the farmers have the required documents to obtain the fertilizers at a subsidized rate, it is not an easy task, the farmers complained.  

The documents are to be submitted to the District Agriculture Office (DAO), uploaded online and a challan is issued. The challan is then given to the bank with the required amount and a receipt is given. The fertilizers will then be obtained from a godown after the receipt is submitted. This whole process takes around two to three days amidst the COVID-19 induced restrictions. 

Irabot Foundation Manipur (IFM) president Th Ajit told TFM that one Sangam of rice field requires a bag of urea fertilizer, which the government is providing at a subsidized rate, and one Pari of rice field requires four bags. 

He suggested an alternative system where the staff members of the agriculture department are deputed and a single point is created where the submission of documents, the deposit of money and distribution of fertilizers are done. Another alternative way to lessen the hassle for the farmers is to let local clubs or organisations distribute the fertilizers as in Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) and National Food Security Act (NFSA). 

Ajit further said that of the required 64,950 bags of urea fertilizer for Thoubal and Kakching districts, just 11,500 bags have been distributed as of Monday. He contended that the situation is the same for other districts as well. He also stressed on the importance of providing the fertilizers in time to the farmers. 

Maintaining that the supply of fertilizers is controlled by the state government through the agriculture department, he raised suspicion about the availability of fertilizers in the market at an inflated price. He asserted that the government ought to probe the black marketeering of the essential commodity of farmers.  

Alleging that there have been instances of MLA and ministers meddling with the supply of fertilizers to appease their voters, Ajit urged the politicians to avoid politicizing on such matters. 

Meanwhile, Manipur Loumi Lup secretary Haobijam Ibobi maintained that the government needs to deploy simple ways of providing fertilizers to the farmers. Stressing on the need to provide the fertilizers in time, he suggested the concerned authorities keep the essential commodity in stock in godowns. The agriculture minister should look into the matter seriously, he added. 

Echoing what Ajit had said about the politicisation of the issue, Ibobi asserted that favouritism should be avoided at all costs.

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