May 21, 2022, Saturday

Nepal reeling under fertilizer shortage as China reluctant to supply it on time

KATHMANDU: Nepal faces a shortage of fertilizer as China has been reluctant to supply chemical fertilizer to Nepal as per the agreement.

The northern neighbor, China, which earlier showed a big-brotherly attitude by encroaching Nepal’s land in the Humla district, has come under yet another controversy due to its failure to provide chemical fertilizer to Nepal on time.

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It may be noted that China has tightened exports of chemical fertilizers to Nepal by issuing a circular on October 15.

China’s policy to tighten the export of chemical fertilizer on the pretext of “less production” has adversely affected Nepal’s farmers thus creating a crisis.

Due to China’s unilateral decision, the farmers of Nepal are facing an acute shortage of chemical fertilizers.

Farmers cultivating mainly wheat and commercial vegetables are compelled to return empty-handed even after waiting in line for hours at local cooperatives.

According to them, their problem would be addressed if China ensured a smooth supply of fertilizer as per the agreement.

Agricultural Inputs Company Limited had initially tendered for 10,000 tons of urea.

Silk Transport had won the bid to supply chemical fertilizer. However, only 1,465 tons of manure have entered Nepal from China in September 2021, while China has yet to send the remaining 8,535 tons to Nepal.

Nepal had reached an agreement with Chinese fertilizer manufacturer Qinghai Yantianhuan International Fertilizer Ltd. to supply fertilizer to Nepal.

However, due to China’s new policy, the imported goods of Silk Transport have been stuck in various places of China. Similarly, 300 metric tons of manure are stuck at the Tatopani border.

The fertilizer stuck at the Tatopani has not entered Nepal due to China’s unilateral and hesitant attitude towards Nepal.

It should also be noted that the Chairman of the importing company Ramesh Sherpa wrote a letter to the Agriculture Inputs Company on December 6, urging it to take a diplomatic initiative to ensure easy import of fertilizer from China.

Meanwhile, Silk Transport’s Chief Operating Officer Kalyan Silwal said that they have initiated a diplomatic initiative with China for an uninterrupted supply of fertilizer.

“Smooth import of fertilizer was stopped due to China’s new policy. If China had not introduced the new policy, the fertilizer would have arrived by now,” he told Khabarhub.

The Swiss-Singapore Company was to supply 30,000 tons of urea from China at a rate of US$ 662.25 per ton.

However, after the contract, the price of chemical fertilizer in the international market continued to increase and touch an all-time high.

Apart from Nepal, China’s chemical fertilizers are being exported to India, Pakistan, South American countries and African countries.

In the first eight months of 2021 alone, China exported 10.8 million tons of chemical fertilizers.

In Nepal, the suppliers had signed contract agreements with Agricultural Inputs Company Limited and Salt Trading to import fertilizers from various Chinese manufacturers.

According to the agreement, most of the fertilizers will be imported from China.

However, due to the sudden tightening of export of manure by China, even the companies that reached the Chinese port by ship have not been able to import the fertilizer.

The Ministry of Agriculture has taken a diplomatic initiative after Nepali suppliers complained that even the excrement allotted for Nepal could not come out in the Chinese industry.

China has not yet responded to a letter sent to Nepal asking it to allow the export of manure from its industry and facilitate its export.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Nepal needs 700,000 metric tons of manure annually.

Likewise, a total of 130,000 tons of fertilizer including 60,000 tons of DAP and 70,000 tons of urea is in demand this season for wheat and commercial vegetable farming.

The government had announced in the budget to provide Rs 15 billion for the purchase of chemical fertilizer in the current fiscal year.

The Ministry of Agriculture had given the approval to purchase 209,000 tons to the Agricultural Inputs and 100,000 tons to Salt Trading, estimating that it could purchase 309,000 tons of fertilizer from it.

However, only 76,500 tons have been supplied so far.

Although both the companies have started the tender process for the purchase, they have not been able to supply as per the demand.

Officials of the company have been saying that the price of chemical fertilizer has reached a high point in the international market due to China.

Similarly, Nepali businessmen have been in trouble due to China’s reluctance to operate the border.

Businessmen and locals have demanded that the two checkpoints (Tatopani-Khasa and Rasuwagadhi-Kerung) with China have not been operating smoothly for a long time.

The Kerung and Tatopani checkpoints, which were closed after the start of the Covid-19, have not been fully functional.

Even though as many as 250 trucks used to enter Nepal with goods on a daily basis, currently, only 20 vehicles enter Nepal daily through these checkpoints.

According to the Rasuwagadhi Customs Office, 9 trucks are being imported daily from the Rasuwagadhi checkpoint and 11 trucks from the Tatopani checkpoint.