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Thursday, Sep 19, 2002

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SSP manufacturers seek level field

Amit Mitra

SSP manufacturers have been affected by, what they describe as `discrimination' meted out to them by the State Government's policy in the distribution and allotment of quantities under the Essential Commodities Act during rabi and kharif seasons.


MANUFACTURERS of single super phosphate (SSP) in Andhra Pradesh, mostly concentrated in Visakhapatnam and West Godavari districts, are in a tizzy in the face of stiff competition they are facing from their counterparts in neighbouring States.

The SSP manufacturers are of the view that only if the State Government created a "level-playing field'' for them in the market, they could face the competition.

Industry sources told Business Line that SSP is one of the important fertilisers used by the farmers in the State, with the annual consumption being 2.60 lakh tonnes.

In fact, the SSP market is expected to grow sharply in the coming years, given its high utility rate for the additional nutrient of sulphur it contained and the advantages accruing to farmers when it was used in combination with urea and muriate of potash in terms of cost compared to imported complex fertilisers.

However, SSP manufacturers have been affected by, what they describe as `discrimination' meted out to them by the State Government's policy in the distribution and allotment of quantities under the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) during rabi and kharif seasons.

Says Mr K.M.Lakshmana Rao, Secretary of the AP SSP Manufacturers Association, "There are seven SSP manufacturing units in the State and it is hard for them to compete in the market when SSP from other States is pouring in without sufficient quality checks at the entry point or at the godowns stored before being released to the dealers.

This is in stark contrast to the case of the local manufacturers who have to release their products for consumption only after they go through daily checks at the plant-level by the Agriculture Department.''

According to him, lack of proper quality checks in the case of SSP coming in from other States such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, gave those manufacturers scope for dumping their product in Andhra Pradesh. "This not only results in unhealthy competition but is applying the brakes on the growth of the local industry and casts doubts in the minds of farmers about the optimum use of SSP when the product is found wanting in quality. When the MRP fixed by the State Government for SSP is uniform, why can't the imported SSP be subjected to quality checks before being released to farmers, as it is being done for locally produced SSP'' Mr Lakshmana Rao said. The installed SSP production capacity in the State is of four lakh tonnes but the plants were restricted to operate only to 38 per cent of it, with fertiliser from other States accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the consumption here.

For the local SSP manufacturers, the ideal condition would be to have the allotment of quantities under ECA to be based on local availability and only the residual quantity to be earmarked for imports from other States.

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