Frightening facts and figures
THE findings of laboratory tests conducted by the state-run Soil Resources Development Institute over 5,190 samples of fertilisers, locally produced and imported, that 40 per cent of the fertilisers available in the country are adulterated have indeed reasons to raise concerns. As New Age reported on Wednesday, the test report, which has been submitted to the agriculture ministry on Tuesday, also says that adulteration levels in fertilisers like urea, DAP, SSP, SOP and boron have increased to three per cent, 21 per cent, 93 per cent and 59 per cent in 2011-12 from respectively two per cent, 21 per cent, 67 per cent and 30 per cent in 2010-11.
According to experts, excessive use of adulterated fertilisers has adverse impacts on the fertility of soil alongside productivity of crops. In other words, use of adulterated fertilisers may force farmers to apply more such fertilisers in their bid to increase crop production ending up causing the overall cost of production to rise manifold on the one hand and decline in the fertility of soil further on the other. One need not be an expert to conclude that such a situation is likely to leave a dampening effect on the overall crop production. Additionally, it is going to happen at a time when, being deprived of fair price for their crops, including rice, potato, etc, against the backdrop of consecutive bumper productions in the past few years, farmers have already reduced, to some extent, the production of those crops in particular. Overall, unabated use of sub-standard fertilisers may hamper the nation’s efforts to ensure food security. The SRDI tests have also confirmed that many of the adulterated fertilisers contain heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, chromium and lead. According to experts, such metals are detrimental to the environment. Also, the metals if consumed beyond permissible levels may cause deadly diseases such as cancer.
Fertiliser is an essential element to promote a healthy and vibrant plant. Besides, as they became aware of the fact over the past decades, farmers in general, particularly those engaged in cultivating different cash crops, have increasingly become desperate to have fertilisers at cheaper rates. At the same time, in the absence of adequate monitoring, people seeking to make quick money by adulterating fertilisers in particular cashed in on such a situation. Be that as it may, the government needs to rise to the occasion and deal with the menace seriously.
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