‘Our endeavor is to eliminate import dependence on urea by 2025 and replace it with nano urea and other alternative forms of urea.’

Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Manushk Mandaviya. file | Photo Credit: PTI

The Union Cabinet recently approved a package of schemes for farmers with a total outlay of ₹3,70,128.7 crore and a major part of it – ₹3,68,676.7 crore – will be used to ensure subsidy for urea for the next three years. will be done for talking to HinduUnion Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Manushk Mandaviya said that the endeavor of the Center is to reduce import dependence on fertilizers, especially in view of the steep rise in prices after the Ukraine crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. Excerpts from the interview:

What are the major components of the recently announced package for farmers?

This is not a scheme, it is a special package of Rs 3,70,128.7 crore. There are four components in this package. One of them is to ensure subsidy for urea for the next three years. A commitment of ₹3,68,676.7 crore has been made for urea subsidy from 2022-23 to 2024-25. Of course, at present the urea subsidy is being ensured. But considering the international conditions and the price of gas, its allocation may change. The scheme is a promise that there will be an allocation for urea subsidy in the next budget.

The second component is the Prime Minister’s Program for the Restoration, Awareness Generation, Nurturing and Improvement of Mother Earth (PM-PRANAM) scheme for balanced use of chemical fertilizers. The Center and States should work together to promote natural farming by increasing the use of alternative and organic fertilizers and reducing the consumption of chemical fertilizers. Half of the fertilizer subsidy saved by the states by promoting bio-fertilizers will be given by the Center to the states.

The third component provides Market Development Assistance (MDA) of ₹1,500 per metric tonne to support marketing of organic fertilizers produced as a by-product from Bio-Gas Plants/ Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) Plants set up under Gobardhan Yojana. To do. ,

The fourth component is the introduction of Sulfur Coated Urea as Urea Gold. This will remove the sulfur deficiency in the soil in the country and improve our crop productivity.

What was the need and relevance of such a special package at this time? Do we have a crisis of fertilizer availability?

This package had to be brought because the use of fertilizers in the country has become unbalanced. The ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium should be 4:2:1. Instead, it is 8:3:1. The soil balance has been disturbed and as a result production has become saturated. Soil health, human health, animal health and environmental health are interrelated. We came up with this scheme to promote a health package.

According to one study, excessive use of fertilizers resulted in a 16% decrease in production in Punjab, while the use of fertilizers increased by 10% in the state during the same period. This is causing soil health to deteriorate over time. It is clear that balanced use of fertilizers is essential for stable production, food security and helping farmers.

Recently the Food Minister had warned of reduction in production and procurement due to El Nino phenomenon. So will moving to natural farming affect our food security?

The question is relevant, but it will not affect the production. I am not talking about completely stopping the consumption of chemical fertilizers, but adopting alternative fertilizers. For example, we have launched neem-coated urea, sulphur-coated urea and nano urea instead of urea, which will reduce the consumption of chemical fertilizers without affecting production. The country is moving towards natural farming and organic farming step by step. We cannot suddenly switch to organic farming, which could lead to a Sri Lanka-like situation. Our endeavor is to eliminate import dependence on urea by 2025 and replace it with nano urea and other alternative forms of urea.

Urea subsidy has been extended for three years. Does it mean that farmers are reluctant to use Nano Urea?

Nano urea will also not completely replace conventional urea. Farmers will have to be made aware of Nano Urea and they will start using it. Farmers did not accept chemical fertilizers very quickly. it took a while. Nano Urea has been approved after several scientific studies by various government institutions and departments. This will not cause any harm to the health of the soil. One 500 ml bottle of Nano Urea will replace one bag of 45 kg urea. This will also reduce the transportation cost. Farmers will gladly accept Nano Urea.

Also, what is the role of public sector fertilizer companies in the quest for self-sufficiency?

We cannot compromise on the food security of our country and the income of farmers should also not decrease. To ensure self-sufficiency in urea, we commissioned and revived six urea plants in seven years. We are importing about 80 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of urea; The new plants will help reduce this number. In addition, we have also revived some of our public sector fertilizer units; For example, FACT in Kerala is now a profit making company.

Due to the lockdown and Ukraine crisis, there was a huge increase in the price of all fertilizers. In this position, we entered into long-term contracts for imports with countries such as Saudi Arabia, Canada, Russia, Israel, Morocco and Jordan. Russia tripled its fertilizer supply to us.

Do we have enough stock of fertilizers for this Kharif season?

There is no shortage of fertilizers in the country. Farmers come in groups to buy fertilizers and this can lead to queues. We have 77 LMT Urea, 30 LMT Di Ammonium Phosphate and 45 LMT NPK in stock which is more than sufficient for this season. The availability and distribution of fertilizers is monitored in weekly meetings with the states. We have a robust digital technology platform, Integrated Fertilizer Management System, which provides all the information. We are also taking strong action against diversion and smuggling of fertilizers.