Overuse of Fertilisers:
  • Investigations carried out under All India Coordinated Research Project on ‘Long Term Fertilizer Experiments’ over five decades at fixed sites have indicated that continuous use of nitrogenous fertilizer alone had deleterious effect on soil health and crop productivity showing deficiencies of other major and micro nutrients.
  • The consumptions of chemical fertilizers in the country during 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 (upto kharif 2020) are 54.38, 56.21, 59.88 and 33.85 million tonnes of fertilizer products (Urea, Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP), Murate of Potash (MOP), Complexes and Single Super Phosphate (SSP), respectively.
Steps taken to reduce Fertiliser usage:
  • The Government has launched a National Mission on Soil Health Card to promote soil test based balanced and judicious fertilizer application in the country.
  • Similarly, organic farming is being promoted under Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD-NER) in the country.
  • Trainings and demonstrations are organized through ICAR institutions including Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), and agricultural universities to educate farmers on all these aspects.
Fertiliser Policy in India:
  • Urea is the only controlled fertilizer. It is sold at statutory notified uniform sale price, and decontrolled Phosphatic and Potassic fertilizes are sold at indicative maximum retail prices (MRPs)
  • The statutorily notified sale price and indicative MRP is generally less than the cost of production of the irrespective manufacturing unit
  • The difference between the cost of production and the selling price/MRP is paid as subsidy/concession to manufacturers
  • As the consumer prices of both indigenous and imported fertilizers are fixed uniformly, financial support is also given on imported urea and decontrolled Phosphatic and Potassic fertilizers
Issues with this policy:
  • Diversion of Urea to non-agricultural activities as it is cheap (Neam coating of Urea is being tested to stop this)
  • Smuggling of Urea to Nepal
  • Distorted N:P:K ratio
Suggestions for Fertiliser industry :
  • There is a need to increase the urea price by at least 15 per cent. The current selling price of urea which is highly subsidised is almost one-fourth the world price. There is a potential over the next four years to increase urea price every year gradually so that the subsidy levels are reduced. Further due to the product being very cheap, there is excessive use of urea and this affects the soil. By increasing the price this can lead to more balanced fertilization and lower subsidy outgo.
  • The Fertiliser industry is the best candidate for direct benefit transfer (DBT). Currently, the subsidy is paid through the fertiliser companies. This is totally unnecessary. If the farmers are given subsidy directly, this will not only stop leakage but will also avoid unnecessary paper work and red-tapism.
  • Currently in the phosphatic sector, there is a cumbersome procedure to reclaim subsidy and freight. It is desirable to have freight merged into the subsidy so that there is only one stage of disbursement. A weighted average freight can be used for this purpose. Currently, freight bills have to be submitted separately and verified and then paid. All these results in a lot of paper work delay.
  • The current move of the Government to grant support to organic compost is a welcome move as this ensures replacement of carbon into the soil thereby making it more conducive for farming.
  • The major challenge in the farm sector relates to irrigation as the percentage of land under irrigation is still less than 20-25per cent and majority of Indian farmland is rain-fed or monsoon dependent. Investment in linking of rivers and building of canals to systematically increase irrigated area every year should be part of the budget.
  • Single Super Phosphate (SSP) is the appropriate fertiliser for the small and marginal farmers. The current system of subsidy is not conducive to promotion of SSP usage. Countries like Brazil have used this cheaper alternative with some support rather than depend on imported di-ammonium phosphate (DAP). The whole policy towards SSP needs to be relooked. At least 3 million tons of SSP can be used in addition to the current usage. This will bring down imports of DAP by at least 2 million tons annually.
“The indiscreet fertilizer use is attributable more to the government’s flawed fertiliser pricing policies than to the farmers’ lack of awareness.” Comment. (200 Words)
Economic Survey for 2015-16 has mentioned that the marginal productivity of fertilizers has been decreasing since 1970s due to its inefficient use.
Government’s flawed pricing policy is important cause as follows:
  1. The prices of Urea are highly regulated in India, on the other hand other nutrient fertilizer like Potash and Phosphate have high costs.
  2. The use of fertilizers is highly tilted towards use of urea not only because of cost implications but also because of availability constraints of Phosphate and Potash fertilizers.
  3. Even government steps in New Urea Policy 2015 like uniform gas pricing for all urea manufactures and mandatory Neem-coating of urea though welcome but are aimed at Urea alone.
  4. The government subsidy largely goes to Urea alone and government has shied from moving towards Nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) system.
  5. Similarly neglect towards micronutrients is also attributed to pricing policies.
  6. Further pricing policies are helping big farmers and causing disparity among states. Eg: high use in Punjab.
  7. Large amounts of Urea are also smuggled out thus creating artificial shortage and shoot up the prices, hoarding, etc.
However, there is large scale unawareness among farmers regarding judicious fertilizer use. Even N:P:K ratio of 4:2:1 which was publicised for long by government is found to be inappropriate for all regions as per report of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Thus, moving towards NBS system is the key and the recent steps of introduction of Soil Health Cards (SHC) for scientific soil requirements is a welcome move. Also to promote Organic farming government has launched 2 important schemes like ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ and ‘Organic Value Chain Development in North East Region’.
New Urea Policy, Chabahar urea manufacturing unit, Soil health cards, Kisan Suvidha app, extension services, organic farming and most importantly bringing Urea under NBS are ways forward.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top