[Answered] Discuss the policy measures that can be helpful in reducing the fertiliser subsidy bill.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.

Body: Explain some measures that can be helpful in reducing the fertiliser subsidy bill.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

In 2021- 22, India’s import of fertilisers touched an all-time high of $12.77 billion in fiscal terms. Fertilizer subsidy has doubled in a short period of three years. For 2021-22, the Union Budget has estimated fertilizer subsidy at ₹79,530 crores (from ₹66,468 crores in 2017-18).

The following policy measures that can be helpful in reducing the fertiliser subsidy bill:

  • There is a need to cap or even reduce consumptionof high-analysis fertilisers – particularly urea (46 per cent N content), DAP (18 per cent N and 46 per cent P) and MOP (60 per cent). Products such as liquid “nano urea” can be used which is conducive to easier absorption by the plants.
  • Promote sales ofSSP (containing 16 per cent P and 11 per cent S) and complex fertilisers.
  • DAPuse should be restricted mainly to paddy and wheat because other crops don’t require fertilisers with 46% P content. India can also import more rock phosphate to make SSP directly or it can be converted into “weak” phosphoric acid.
  • The agriculture departmentsand universities should revisit their existing crop-wise nutrient application recommendations, and create awareness amongst farmers about suitable substitutes for DAP.
  • The government should popularise the use of high nutrient use-efficient water soluble fertilisers (potassium nitrate, potassium sulphate, calcium nitrate, etc) and alternative indigenous sources (for example, potash derived from molasses-based distillery spent-wash and from seaweed extract).
  • In the long run, the government needs to augment the agricultural income of farmers so that they voluntarily give up their subsidies in the future. This would happen with better implementation of schemes like E-NAM, SAMPADA, PM Fasal Bima Yojana, etc.

The ultimate solution is to make agriculture more lucrative and remunerative which would gradually lead to the withdrawal of subsidies and relieve the government of their fiscal burden.

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