LAHORE - The National Fertilizer Marketing Limited (NFML) has terminated licences of over 200 agencies, which were involved in black marketing of fertilizers in the country and violating company’s rules and selling urea at exorbitant rates.

This was stated by NFML marketing head Uzer Abu Bakr, while talking to The Nation here on Monday.

He claimed that the inspection teams of NFML are always on tour to check performance of dealers throughout the country and if anyone is found involve in charging high rates from consumer, his licence is immediately terminated. He said the foremost task of NFML is to ensure availability of urea on fixed rates.

He said that the company’s team dispatches daily sale report of its all dealers to provincial agriculture department so that they could check the dealers efficiently. He added that provincial government is responsible to keep a check on black marketing, besides taking action against those who are involved in price-hiking.

He said that to meet the urea requirement for Rabi season on immediate bases, the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) will complete its 0.7 million tons urea import operation till the end of current month. He observed that 0.4 million tons urea has been arrived so far out of which 0.2 million tons had been lifted by National Fertilizer Marketing Limited (NFML).

He said that government is doing its best on its part to complete urea import operation as early as possible so that urea requirements could be met for ongoing Rabi season.

“In view of the urgency of urea import for the Rabi season 2011-12, the federal government had allowed special permission to match the lowest bid received against the tender.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet after having detailed deliberations in the light of the urea situation and the supply of gas for its production a few days ago has taken the decision for importing 0.2 million tones of urea for the Rabi crop 2011-12,” Uzer Abu Bakr maintained.

He further said that Pakistan’s urea demand is approximately 6.5 million tons per annum against the local production of 5.4 million tons while the country has the capacity of producing 6.8 million tons urea domestically. But gas shortage has badly damaged the domestic production of urea and country has to rely on urea import to meet country’s requirements. It is worth mentioning that Punjab government has already blamed that urea shortage is well designed by central govt to earn more profit.

Senior Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab Zulfiqar Khosa while talking to the media at CM Secretariat last month said that the distribution of urea to the growers through NFML agencies and stores is very complicated, as it has a limited network in the country, which is not sufficient even at Tehsil level.

He said that Punjab was facing worst urea crunch at a time when sowing season of wheat crop was at its peak, holding federal government responsible for the mess and shortage.

He said that the growers were running from pillar to post in search of fertilizer for wheat sowing but the TCP has not imported the required 7 million tons of urea.

He urged the central government to take the matter of urea shortage seriously, saying Punjab had already asked the federal government to immediately import urea fertilizer to overcome the shortage.

He claimed the black marketers and hoarders are charging growers Rs700 per bag extra. He slated the centre for not taking any strong notice of fertilizer shortage in the country.

He said that Punjab has timely informed the federal government to ensure availability of 2.4 million tons of urea fertilizer for the current Rabi season but unfortunately no effective measures for timely availability of urea have been made. He further said that price of urea bag which was Rs850/- in December 2010 has now been increased up to Rs1,800 due to unwise decisions of the federal government.

It is to be noted that the farmers have complained that they are not getting benefits from government’s subsidy on fertilisers, as the subsidy was not being passed onto growers by urea dealers.

They said that fertiliser prices were increasing without any regulatory check despite no increase in prices of gas. They said that urea’s 80 percent price is connected with gas prices, but when there is no increase in gas why price of urea had been increased.

They said that Pakistan’s per acre fertiliser use is already the lowest in the world, and if prices increase it would further come down resulting in low yield per acre, they added.