Among the series of the pressing issues the country is facing today, the shortage of fertilizer is the most pressing one, for it is directly and indirectly linked to food security. From time to time, farmers have been raising their voices regarding the shortage of urea and DAP during the wheat sowing season. The black-marketing of the commodity forced the farmers to buy a Rs1,700 urea bag at Rs2,500 and a DAP bag at Rs8,000 instead of the official rate of Rs5,800. Farmers have time to time taken to the street, and even blocked roads in Okara, Sahiwal, and Muzaffargarh districts to press the government to accept their demands. Their only demand is: to ensure the supply of urea at official rates. On Tuesday, five MNAs from the Pakistan People’s Party raised the issue of urea shortage, which will create a wheat crisis. Instead of coming up with a satisfactory reply, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf representatives came up with an absurd reply: there is no shortage of urea at all and that farmers be blamed for the crisis. This boiled the temper of the opposition members, resulting in a rumpus in the house.
The government is well aware of the shortage of fertilizers, and the ensuing profiteering spree by the dealers. For that reason, district governments are working overtime to ensure that the commodity is not hoarded and that farmers get bags under a quota. The efforts have not yet ended the crisis. The shortage persists and the ruling lawmakers should not bury their heads in the sand, and instead become the voice of the public. Urea shortage is an international issue, as its prices have soared in the international market. Some government circles say urea is being smuggled to Afghanistan. If these reports are accurate, the government must be vigilant in border security. The shortage of urea, however, is a reality, and in this regard, the government has taken steps after wasting precious time. The government is reportedly importing 100,000 tons of urea from China. This should have been done before the wheat sowing season. The shortage period offers lessons to policymakers. There should be a mechanism placed to take stock of the urea needs and for future planning.