KOPPAL: Officials of the Agriculture Department in Koppal seem to have unearthed an alleged artificial scarcity scam involving fertilisers meant for the Kharif season. Vigilance squads of the department have raided shops and seized 14.675 tonnes of illegally stored fertilisers by traders in the open market, and cases have been booked against 17 fertiliser traders and licences of six shops have been suspended. Serpentine queues of farmers continue to be seen in front of Raitha Samparka Kendras (RSKs) across the district, including the one at Masabahanchinal, the village of minister Halappa Achar. This has led to suspicion of artificial scarcity.
Meanwhile, fertiliser traders in the open market are fleecing farmers, citing the ‘unavailability’ of fertilisers. They claim to get fertilisers for farmers from other shops at a much higher price than what the government has prescribed. As the district received 98.7 mm rainfall as against the average of 66.2 mm in July, in addition to the 25 mm rainfall as against an average of 5 mm for August 1 and 2, farmers are in dire need of fertilisers. They are forced to cough up hefty sums for the same in the open market, sources noted.
Intriguingly, agriculture department officials claim that there is adequate stock of fertilisers, but the same is not being witnessed by the farming community, said an official on condition of anonymity.
Joint Director of Agriculture Sadashiva attributed the shortage to early Kharif sowing, especially paddy in the command area of the Tungabhadra Project following heavy rainfall in the catchment area of the Tungabhadra reservoir in June-July.
Though the agriculture department estimated demand of 70,494 metric tonnes of fertilisers in the district between April and July, the supply has stood at 56,722 metric tonnes and hence the shortage. He, however, told TNIE on Wednesday that fertilisers meant for August and September are also being advanced for supply to overcome the problem.