Farmers protest arbitrary rise in fertilizer price

Nayagarh: Hundreds of farmers here resorted to a sit-in-protest Tuesday expressing outrage over the increasing price of fertilizer in the district.

They alleged wholesalers and retailers in the district sell fertilizer at arbitrary rates, even as the co-operation minister has strictly warned them against selling fertilizer at rates over Rs 295 in the state.

Protesting the black marketing, the farmers took to demonstration on Khurda-Bolangir National Highway-57.

They accused the officials concerned of not taking steps to check the fraud. They even accused some officials of being hand in glove with the black marketers.

According to sources, some farmers had gone to buy fertilizer from a wholesale shop on National Highway-57 Tuesday morning. The wholesaler demanded Rs 440 for a packet of urea weighing 50 kg and forced them to take a kilo of zinc fertilizer along with it.

He began to threaten the farmers when they claimed that they would buy it at government price of Rs 295.

Irate farmers held a sit-in-protest halting hundreds of vehicles on the highway. Many vehicles were left stranded on either side of the road for hours until Nayagarh Town police reached the spot and brought the situation under control.

The agitation was called off after IIC Rashmiranjan Patnaik held a discussion with farmers and the wholesaler. However, the farmers were made to buy the urea packet at Rs 320 each instead of Rs 295.

Nayagarh deputy director of agriculture (DDA), Laxmi Narayan Das, said the government had directed both wholesalers and retailers to sell urea packets at Rs 295. A probe will be launched if it was sold at Rs 320, he said, adding, he had ordered district agriculture officer Subodh Chola to conduct a probe and submit a report.

Nine wholesalers and 162 retailers are entitled to sell fertilizer in the district. Even as all of them sell fertilizer at higher rates, officials have not conducted raids, farmers alleged.  PNN

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