Kerala’s plantation sector suffering an acute fertilizer shortage

The plantation sector in Kerala is concerned about the non-availability of fertilizers. Already there is a severe shortage of urea and MOP (Muriate of Potash) in tea gardens, which is likely to have a dooming impact on the industry which is struggling with financial stress.

As such the tea sector requires an average of around 200 kg of nitrogen and an almost equal quality of potassium per hectare in a year for plant nutrients, but the current availability is around 100-120 kg.

Tea producers have been asking the government to take urgent steps to ensure adequate availability considering its impact on the validity of the tea industry in the state.

The shortage of fertilizer is also hindering the application of required quantities of manure for rubber plantation this season. Though fertilizer requirement in rubber is far lower than other crops, availability has been an issue. For plantations, there has been confusion on the norms of availability along with serious issues of shortage, leading to limited application.

Based on soil and foliar analysis, the average rubber plantation requirement of manure varies between 200-300 kg per hectare. Following this method, only 40 hectares can be applied per month and this is a very small area for the rubber sector. The limits were increased somewhat after the matter was taken up at all levels.

Currently, the fertilizer shortage has had a marginal impact on the cardamom sector. Most farmers use complex fertilizers. And though there has been some shortage, good monsoons have helped keep fertilizer usage minimal.

In pineapple farms, the shortage has affected timely manure application as these fruit farms require 18,000 tonnes of urea and 13,000 tonnes of potash in 45,000 acres on a yearly basis According to state government officials in the Directorate of Agriculture, the shortage in the state has been on account of a global crisis for imported chemical fertilizer into the country. For example, the requirement of urea for November was 10,196 tonnes and the allotted quantity was only 6300 tonnes. No MOP was supplied this month against a demand of 11,678 tonnes and the allocation of 9,000 tonnes.

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