Victims of the Ukraine war are unlikely to fall asleep Apple, Himalayan wheat farmers

“We are hit twice by this time. Extreme weather and lack of fertilizer have broken the backs of farmers and gardeners,” said Tulsi Ram Sharma, an apple farmer from Theog, Himachal Pradesh.

“There was no fertilizer in the market during the apple blossom and when the wheat and vegetable crops needed fertilizer. , “Sharma has spent the last five decades growing apples on 8 large plots of land in gardens and orchards. – The dominant region.



Wine and Geopolitics

The crisis is exacerbated by India’s deteriorating relations with China and the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war. This is due to the disconnection of war-torn Ukraine from the world’s leading exporter of urea fertilizer, Devinder Singh. He added that India’s dependence on raw materials for fertilizers is mainly from China and Ukraine.

Speaking to 101 reporters, Hemichel Pradesh State Cooperative Marketing and Consumer Federation Chairperson Ganesh Dut said the lack of imported raw materials has exacerbated the fertilizer crisis in Himichal Pradesh and “necessary steps have been taken to ensure HIMFED’s presence.” “In addition, bio-fertilizers developed by the region’s agri-horticultural universities have been distributed to farmers and horticulturists.

In Himalayan, 69 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture and horticulture, which means that about 9.61 lakh farmers and 2.5 lakh gardeners are directly affected by this shortage. Apples need nitrogen before flowering, which requires fertilizer, and urea fertilizer is essential for good wheat production. The main disadvantage of both is that the quality of the grains in wheat crops is low and the ripening apples and other fruits bloom prematurely.

Dr. SP Bhardwaj, a horticultural expert, says that winter plants are regenerated in the spring, during which time they often feed on nutrients. As a result, the plants are strong for the next crop cycle. This year, however, the overall crop cycle has been disrupted.

HIMFED alone buys, distributes

HIMFED receives fertilizer from organizations across the country and verifies supply to farmers and horticulturists through Hehal Predation through their cells. HIMFED provides fertilizer in depots opened by PDS in areas where it does not have its own centers.

In fact, HIMFED alone sells 80 percent of the fertilizer in the region. A.D. By February 2022, it had distributed 22,958 tons of manure to farmers and gardeners and supplied 74,604 tons of manure in the same month last year. This small supply has also led to significant inflation in fertilizer prices. As a result, farmers and horticulturists, led by CPI-M senior management and former Shimla Sanjay Chawhan mayor, have been protesting against the sale of HIMFED fertilizer at market prices.

HIMFED sells fertilizer all year round but farmers buy it at the beginning of the harvest season due to final storage problems.

Haimfed, established by the regional government, is responsible for procuring and distributing fertilizers in advance to prevent supply shortages. Normally, farmers visit HIMFED centers and PDS depots to buy fertilizers. Due to the general shortage, farmers and gardeners began to buy fertilizer from the market, as their centers also had low stocks. There is no direct fertilizer agency other than HIMFED, and a limited amount of fertilizer is sold in open markets.

Beyond apples

The lack of fertilizer in addition to apples has affected the quality of wheat crops.

Bhag Singh, a wheat farmer in Una woreda, said production had declined by 10 percent compared to last year, and small and medium-sized farmers were suffering from malnutrition. I visited the government warehouse every day for about a week in search of fertilizer for the crop, but he said he returned empty-handed every time.

Similarly, Prim Singh, a horticulturist in Kulu, said he was working with gardeners to harvest manure to reduce crop waste.

Increased temperatures and inadequate rainfall, coupled with prolonged dry rains, are another factor responsible for the plight of Hichal farmers today. According to the Bureau of Meteorology 1901 to 2022, March 2022 was the hottest March of the century. Such harsh weather can wreak havoc on apple crops that require low temperatures.

Dr. Kishor Sharma, a horticultural expert He noted that the temperature in 2022 will be several degrees higher than normal this year.

“This temperature change will affect the position of the fruit on the apple trees, which will reduce crop yields from 15 percent to 20 percent. The quality of the fruit will also deteriorate by not receiving the necessary nutrients. In both cases, gardeners can bear financial losses,” Dr. Sharma told 101 reporters.

The annual turnover of apples in Himalayas is over 4.5 thousand rubles, but if unfavorable weather conditions continue, the state’s economic health is likely to suffer.

How traditional agricultural practices go forward

India has seen the highest food inflation in the last 17 months, with F&B prices rising across the country. In this case, the shortage of fertilizer will affect crop and fruit production at the national level, slowing down further inflation and GDP growth.

While it is not clear how farmers and HIMFED plan to tackle the current crisis in Himachal Pradesh, an in-depth look at the situation will open the way for the use of fertilizers and pesticides that reduce fertilizer and pesticide use. To help farmers take this path, in 2019-20, the central government launched the Bhratia Practical Katy Padhati (BPKP) sub-program under the Paramparagat Krishna Vicas Yojana under the umbrella of the National Agricultural Mission (NMSA). A budget of 4645.69 million rubles by 2025 to promote organic and natural agriculture using traditional practices.

The government of Himalayan Pradesh has launched a campaign to stop the use of pesticides in 2018. The use of such farming methods reduces farmers’ dependence on chemical fertilizers and reduces costs.

(The author is a Shimla-based freelance journalist and a member of the 101 Reporters, Pan India Basic Reporters Network.)

–Ains

Raman / DPB

(Only the title and image of this report may have been redesigned by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from integrated feeds.)

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