India's trade in fertilisers with Russia
- India is exploring ways to set up a rupee payment mechanism for trade with Russia to soften the blow on New Delhi of Western sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.
- Vital supplies of fertilizer from Russia could be disrupted as sanctions intensify, threatening India’s vast farm sector.
Fertiliser consumption in India
- India's fertiliser consumption in FY20 was over 61 million tonnes, with urea accounting for 55 percent of it, and is expected to rise by 5 million tonnes in FY21.
- Because non-urea varieties (MoP, DAP, complex) are more expensive, many farmers choose to use more urea than is really required.
- To limit urea usage, the government has adopted a variety of steps.
- To combat unlawful urea diversion for non-agricultural applications, it introduced neem-coated urea.
- It also increased its support for organic and low-cost farming.
- Currently, the country produces 42-45 million tonnes of fertiliser, with imports totaling roughly 18 million tonnes.
- The Centre provides urea subsidy to fertiliser producers based on the cost of production at each plant, with the units having to sell the fertiliser at the government-set Maximum Retail Price (MRP).
- The MRPs of non-urea fertilisers are deregulated or set by the firms. The Centre, on the other hand, pays a fixed per-tonne subsidy to guarantee that these nutrients are priced at ""reasonable levels.""
- Non-urea fertilisers include Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) and Muriate of Potash (MOP).
- The Nutrient Based Subsidy Scheme regulates all non-urea based fertilisers.
Importance of Fertiliser Sector in India
- The importance of the fertiliser sector in India cannot be overstated, as it offers a critical input for the expansion of Indian agriculture and is an unavoidable aspect to consider in achieving the objective of food grain self-sufficiency.
- The fertiliser sector would include not just the fertiliser business, but also many agricultural operations that are inextricably related to fertiliser production and delivery.
- Farmers are the fertiliser business's most important consumers, thus the fertiliser sector must respond to their demands.
- With dropping farm yields aggravated by climate change, doubling farmers' actual income by FY23 will be impossible, therefore continuing to subsidise fertiliser will be counterproductive to the government's stated agricultural aims. The fertiliser policy has to be reconsidered in this aspect.
- Some people advocate for the use of organic fertilisers and biofertilizers instead of chemical fertilisers because of their negative environmental effect.
- Fertilizer use per hectare of farmed area in 2019-20 ranged from 70 kilogrammes of NPK in Rajasthan to 250 kilogrammes in Telangana. At the district level, the disparity was even larger.
- Furthermore, the N,P,K ratio of total plant nutrients differed significantly from the suggested or optimum NPK combination. Punjab had 33.7:8.0:1 while Kerala had 1.3:0.7:1.
- Due to substantial variances in subsidy content, which is heavily skewed towards urea and therefore nitrogen, this also has ramifications for disparities in inter-State fertiliser subsidy.
- The total demand for urea in the country is about 34-35 million tonnes (mln t) whereas the domestic production is about 25 mln t.
Neem coated Urea
- All domestic manufacturers must produce 100 percent urea as Neem Coated Urea, according to the Department of Fertilizers (DoF) (NCU).
- The following are some of the advantages of using NCU:
- Soil health is improving.
- Use of plant protection agents is being reduced.
- Pest and disease attacks are reduced.
- Increased paddy, sugarcane, maize, soybean, and Tur/Red Gram yields.
- There is very little diversion for non-agricultural reasons.
- Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) of Neem Coated Urea rises as a consequence of the gradual release of nitrogen, resulting in lower NCU use as compared to regular urea.
Need of hour: Biofertilisers
- Bio-fertilizers are inexpensive, renewable, and environmentally friendly, and they have a lot of potential to replenish plant nutrients if used correctly.
- They are not, however, a replacement for chemical fertilisers. They increase the soil's health. Its initial impacts are not obvious since it distributes nutrients to soil in a modest and consistent manner.
- Because of a lack of understanding and a sluggish impact on soil production, sales of bio fertilisers have slowed in the country.
- The usage of bio fertilisers is crucial to preserve soil health, as the increased use of chemical fertilisers destroys all of the microorganisms in the soil that are so important for soil health.
- The use of bio fertilisers in addition to conventional fertilisers can assist preserve soil fertility over time.
- An integrated approach acknowledges that soils are the repository for the majority of plant nutrients required for development, and that how nutrients are managed has a significant influence on plant growth, soil fertility, and agricultural sustainability.