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Centre mulls mobile test labs at ports to check quality of imported fertilisers: Sources

The Centre is mulling introducing mobile testing labs at 21 ports across the country in a bid to ensure imported fertilisers reach farmers on time after a quality check, government sources said on Friday.

Currently, imported fertilisers are tested by Faridabad-based Central Fertiliser Control and Quality Institute (CFCQI) as well as three regional centres that come under the agriculture ministry.

As per the Fertiliser (Movement Control) Order, imported fertilisers are permitted for distribution only after testing the commodity.

“However, due to delay in testing on part of CFCQI, consignments get stuck at ports. There were instances in the past, when some consignments were released without waiting for the test reports on pressure to meet farmers” demand in a particular season,” a highly placed government source said.

When the tested samples were found to be of inferior quality after releasing the consignments from ports, their distribution was later stopped at different levels, the source said, adding this was one of the cases.

But now the issue is being addressed seriously as the government is committed towards supplying quality fertilisers to the farming community, the source added.

To keep a check, another source said, the fertiliser ministry has recently issued an advisory asking importing companies to stop distribution of fertilisers if they see any issue about the quality and the same should be informed to the ministry immediately.

The other plan that the ministry is working on is to set up mobile testing labs at 21 ports to ensure the tests are done quickly on a real-time basis and consignments are released for distribution without any delay, the source added.

It may be noted that import of fertilisers other than urea is free and on private account it is done under the open general licence. Various companies import fertilisers as per their commercial judgement.

The month-wise demand is assessed and projected by the agriculture ministry in consultation with state governments before the commencement of each crop season. Based on that, the fertiliser ministry allocates fertilisers to states by issuing monthly agreed supply plan as per the Fertiliser (Movement Control) Order.

State governments are regularly advised to coordinate with manufacturers and importers of fertilisers for streamlining the supplies through timely placement of indents.

The country imported 188.43 lakh tonne of fertilisers during 2018-29. Of this, urea comprised 74.81 lakh tonne, Di-Ammonium Phosphate 66.02 lakh tonne, Muriate of Potash (MoP) 42.14 lakh tonne and NPK at 5.46 lakh tonne, as per the government data.

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