|Introduction: Contextual introduction.|
Body: Explain the need for a new fertilizer policy in India.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.
India is the 2nd largest consumer and 3rd largest producer of fertilizers in the world. The new policy could propose lower duty on imported phosphoric acid to raise the competitiveness of local fertilizer manufacturers and an incentive for promoting organic fertilizers.
Need for a new fertilizer policy:
- Heavy subsidies: The subsidies have enabled the over utilisation of fertilizers on agricultural lands. Over use of fertilizers also pollutes groundwater. Infants who drink water with high levels of nitrate (or eat foods made with nitrate-contaminated water) may develop the blue baby syndrome. Also, with the subsidy being released directly to companies, technology-inefficient companies are being protected.
- Costlier raw material: Rock phosphate is the key raw material for DAP (diammonium phosphate) and NPK fertilisers and India is 90 percent dependent on imports for them.
- Heavy imports: India depends heavily on imports for its fertilizer requirements. In 2021-22, in value terms, imports of all fertilisers touched an all-time high of $12.77 billion. The total value of fertiliser imports by India, inclusive of inputs used in domestic production, was a huge $24.3 billion in 2021-22.
- Lack of natural resources: In case of urea, primary feedstock is natural gas which is not enough available in the country. As per the petroleum ministry’s data, the fertiliser sector’s share in the consumption of re-gasified LNG was over 41 per cent.
- To promote the efficient useof fertilizers through the balanced use of N, P, and K (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium).
- The Ukraine war spiked the government’s spending on food, fertilizer and fuel subsidies by nearly 70%. For 2023-24, the fertilizer ministry might seek budgetary support of ₹2.5 trillion subsidy – outgo for FY23 has already crossed ₹2 trillion.
One Nation, One Fertilizer plan is a significant step. India should also pay attention to improving fertilizer efficiency through need-based use and increase investment in new fertilizer plants.