LAHORE – With a view to protect local industry, Federal government, instead of importing urea, is ready to purchase it from local fertiliser manufacturers subject to the condition millers give surety of fulfilling whole requirement of the country for upcoming kharif season. However, urea makers refused to give any surety in this regard, as they just wanted to sell out their stock, it was learnt.

Official sources while talking to The Nation, disclosed that country will require 2.5 million tons to 3 million tons of urea in upcoming kharif season while the local manufacturers can produce maximum of 1 million tons of urea with the condition that they are provided at least 80 per cent gas of their allotted quota which is not possible in the prevailing conditions.

They said country may face a shortfall of 0.6 to 0.8 million tons of urea in Kharif season and local manufacturers cannot fill this gap, which may create a risk for food security.

Uzair Abu Bakar, Marketing Head of the NFML, said the local manufacturers in a meeting of fertilizer industry in Islamabad failed to show any commitment of taking responsibility to fulfill complete need of urea. He said that govt offered them that it is ready to buy the whole stock from them if they fill the whole gap of demand and supply of urea but manufacturers refused to take responsibility.

It is to be noted that Pakistani fertiliser manufacturers have been urging the government to save precious foreign exchange resources by buying locally manufactured urea instead of purchasing it from international markets. The government should immediately stop importing urea in the country, as domestic stocks are available to cover the current season’s demand, they said.

They said that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan has already awarded a tender for importing 100,000 tons of urea from international suppliers at a price of $522.86 per ton; and is planning to import another 200,000 tons of urea in July. They claimed that the import of 300,000 tons of urea will cost Rs14.4 billion (at $522.86 per ton) and the government will have to provide a subsidy of a further Rs5 billion for the imported urea.

The NFML marketing head said that to meet the urea requirement for kharif season on immediate bases, the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) will complete its whole urea import operation by the end of kharif season which will last till Sept. He said that government is doing its best on its part to complete urea import operation as early as possible so that urea requirements could be met for kharif season. He further said that Pakistan’s urea demand is approximately 6.5 million tons per annum against the local production of 5.4 million tons while the country has the capacity of producing 6.8 million tons urea domestically. But gas shortage has badly damaged the domestic production of urea and country has to rely on urea import to meet country’s requirements.

He said that to facilitate the farming community of the country, NFML has expanded its dealers’ network throughout the country. Further to streamline the distribution channels new stores have been acquired to ensure the timely availability of urea in forthcoming season, he said. He said, in line with the cabinet decision, Sindh government distributed urea free of cost in the rain-hit areas, while NFML supplied it to Sindh government on priority basis.

He said that the National Fertilizer Marketing Limited (NFML) has terminated licences of hundreds of agencies, which were involved in black marketing of fertilizers in the country and violating company’s rules and selling urea at exorbitant rates.

He claimed that the inspection teams of NFML are always on tour to check performance of dealers throughout the country and if anyone is found involved in charging high rates from consumer, his licence is immediately terminated. He said the foremost task of NFML is to ensure availability of urea on fixed rates.

He said that the company’s team dispatches daily sale report of its all dealers to provincial agriculture department so that they could check the dealers efficiently. He added that provincial government is responsible to keep a check on black marketing, besides taking action against those who are involved in price-hiking.