YK Poudel 

Farmers in Samtse dzongkhag are facing difficulties due to shortage of agricultural fertilisers, despite expectations of a good farming year. The limited number of suppliers and dealers in the region has resulted in an acute shortage of fertilisers during the peak paddy cultivation season.

Farmers have reported the unavailability of essential fertilisers like weedicide (Butachlor) ammonium sulphate, urea, suphala, and bio-fertilisers used for paddy cultivation.

When licensed dealers run out of stock, unauthorised dealers take advantage of the situation by selling fertilisers at inflated prices, which negatively impacts the farmers.

Farmers are unable to directly obtain fertilisers and pesticides manufactured in Phuentsholing. This delay in obtaining supplies has disrupted the timely application of fertilisers in their fields. The farmers are awaiting interventions from the dzongkhag to address this issue.

Vijay Subba from Tashichhoeling gewog is uncertain about the progress of his application to become a fertiliser dealer. Despite submitting his application in December last year, he has not received any response from the dzongkhag. Farmers frequently approach him inquiring about its availability.

Benu Dahal, the owner of Druk Agri Enterprise, says that dealing in fertilisers was not profitable as the sales were seasonal in nature. Although he sold fertilisers at fixed prices according to his contract terms, he lost his license after failing to renew his yearly contract with the dzongkhag administration.

He managed to sell his remaining stock at government rates to local communities. He sold weedicide at Nu 600 for 10 kgs, bio-fertiliser at Nu 470, urea at Nu 1,524, and suphala at Nu 600 packaged from the central store in Phuentsholing.

According to Chhogyel Norbu, the Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer, there are three authorised dealers in Tashichhoeling, Samtse Throm, and Dorokha. While the dealer in Dorokha renewed their contract and continued to supply fertilisers, the dealers in Tashichhoeling and Samtse Throm failed to do so.

Tara Timsina, the agent in Dorokha said that he had a demand for 41 bags of weedicide, Butachlor. He reached all the individuals at the rate of Nu 600. He also shared that selling fertilizers is not a lucrative business as its demand is seasonal. He has urea and suphala all unsold for now.

A new dealer from Sangngachhoeling has received approval from the National Plant Protection Centre and National Seed Centre. They still need to coordinate with the dzongkhag based on market demands.

Samtse produced 3,055.06 metric tonnes (MT) of paddy out of the total 40,745 MT produced last year, accounting for 7 percent. This places Samtse among the top five rice-producing dzongkhags in the country. The dzongkhag is home to 2,818 households engaged in paddy cultivation.