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ISLAMABAD: To meet the domestic demand of urea fertiliser during the Kharif sowing season the government will import 200,000 tons of the commodity.

The decision in the connection was taken here during a meeting of fertilizer review committee which was held under the chairmanship of the Federal Minister for Industries and Production, Makhdoom Murtaza Mahmud, here on Monday.

The officials while briefing the minister on the supply/ demand situation of the urea fertilizer during upcoming Kharif season said that projected domestic production of urea would be 3.2 million tons from April-September 2022,whereas, probability of urea off-take would remain 3.4 million tons in the same period.

The meeting was informed that almost 94 percent of the urea fertilizer demand will be met locally; however, a summary for urea import of two lac tons would be placed to fill the gap before demand peaks in June during the Kharif sowing season.

The forum was also told that there would be two percent increase in agronomic demand for fertilisers in this year. It was noted that the urea sales went up by 17 percent last year.

In order to curb the hoarding and profiteering, leading to smuggling of urea across the border due to high price differential, the body decided to take up strict measures in cooperation with the law enforcement agencies, the FBR, and the Ministry of Interior to thwart smuggling of urea.

Speaking to meeting, the minister said that the government had geared up to ensure smooth, adequate and timely supply of key soil nutrients to farmers during Kharif season and the decisions would be taken accordingly. He said that the government would make all-out efforts to provide urea to farmers at affordable prices, timely.

The forum also discussed the recent price hike of urea from Rs1768 per bag to Rs1933 per bag on average, while Engro had increased the prices up to Rs2017 per bag of urea despite the government is supplying gas (approximately 80 percent constituent of urea price) on subsidized rates.

The industry responded that prices were increased due to financial cost of holding inventory and pending payment of subsidy and refunds from government exchequer. The ministry noted that the government had option of conducting forensic audit which may be exercised if urea prices continue to increase during the Kharif season. The minister assured that the government would address issues pertaining to payments and urged the industry to rationalise the prices immediately to support the farmers, boosting agriculture productivity of the country. The participants of meeting included representative of fertilisers manufacturing industry and officials from the Finance Division, Petroleum Division, Ministry of Food Security and Research, as well as, officials of provincial agriculture departments.

The meeting discussed the domestic production and demand of fertilizers for Kharif season.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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