Fertilizer Sector reforms – NBS, bio-fertilizers, Neem coating, etc.

Achieving Self-Reliance in Fertilizers: A Stepping Stone Towards Atmanirbhar Bharat


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives.

Mains level: Self-reliance in Fertilizer sector


Central Idea

  • In the wake of global crises, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resolute statement, “When the world is in crisis, we must pledge, a pledge that is greater than the crisis itself. We must endeavor to make the 21st century, India’s century and the path to achieving this is self-reliance,” seen as government’s relentless pursuit of a self-reliant India through the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives.

Improvements and achievements in the fertilizer sector in the last the four years

  • Increased opening stocks: There has been a significant improvement in the opening stocks of key fertilizers such as DAP (Di-Ammonium Phosphate), MOP (Muriate of Potash), and other NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) fertilizers. For instance, the opening stocks of DAP, MOP, and other NPK fertilizers during Kharif 2023 have seen a substantial increase compared to Kharif 2022.
  • Self-reliance in fertilizer production: The government’s efforts towards achieving self-reliance in the fertilizer sector have yielded positive results. Through measures such as long-term agreements, joint ventures, and diversification of suppliers, India has reduced its dependence on imports and strengthened its domestic fertilizer production capabilities.
  • Enhanced fertilizer supply chain: The Department of Fertilizers has positioned India as a key player in the global fertilizer supply chain. Through strategic partnerships, long-term agreements, and joint ventures with various countries, India has secured a consistent supply of fertilizers.
  • Resource partnerships: The government partnerships include countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Canada, Russia, Morocco, Israel, Senegal, Tunisia, and South Africa. Such collaborations have provided India with access to critical raw materials like rock phosphate and phosphoric acid, strengthening the country’s resource security.
  • Product portfolio diversification: The expansion of NPK complexes, promotion of alternative fertilizers, and the introduction of innovative formulations have provided farmers with more choices to meet their specific crop and soil requirements.
  • Fertilizer industry growth and employment opportunities: The government’s initiatives and investments in the fertilizer sector have contributed to the growth of the industry. The establishment of joint ventures, expansion of domestic operations, and technological advancements have created employment opportunities and fostered economic development in the sector.
  • Commitment to food security: The government’s efforts towards achieving self-reliance in fertilizers align with its commitment to ensuring food security for the citizens of India. By strengthening the fertilizer supply chain, diversifying the product portfolio, and enhancing domestic production capabilities, the government is taking proactive steps to meet the fertilization needs of the agricultural sector.

Steps for Securing Fertilizer Supplies

  • Long-term agreements: The government has encouraged domestic industries and public sector undertakings to sign long-term agreements for the import of raw materials and intermediates such as ammonia, phosphoric acid, and sulfur.
  • Joint ventures: The government has promoted the establishment of joint ventures with resource-rich nations to secure fertilizer supplies. Joint venture plants have been set up in countries like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Canada, Russia, Morocco, Israel, Senegal, Tunisia, and South Africa.
  • Strategic partnerships: By collaborating with resource-rich nations, the government has established a reliable channel for procuring raw materials. These partnerships have allowed India to secure a supply of 157 LMT of various fertilizers for three years and 32 LMT for four years.
  • Diversification of suppliers: By expanding the list of countries from which fertilizers are imported, India reduces its dependence on any single nation. This diversification enhances the stability and security of the fertilizer supply chain.
  • Foresightedness in crisis: Despite facing challenges such as scarcity of raw materials, including gas, oil, rock phosphate, and potash, the government managed to forge long-term agreements and joint ventures to ensure uninterrupted access to fertilizers.
  • Strengthening domestic operations: The government has supported the domestic industry in identifying opportunities across the value chain. By strengthening domestic operations, India reduces its reliance on imports and becomes more self-sufficient in fertilizer production.
  • Promotion of alternate fertilizers and natural farming: In addition to securing traditional fertilizers, the government has also focused on promoting alternate fertilizers and natural farming practices. This not only reduces dependence on imported fertilizers but also encourages sustainable and eco-friendly farming methods.

Encouraging Joint Ventures: A key Strategy by The Government

  • Raw material security: Joint venture plants established through these partnerships have buy-back agreements and assured off-take agreements. This ensures a consistent supply of critical raw materials like rock phosphate and phosphoric acid, which are essential for fertilizer production.
  • Import substitution: By setting up manufacturing facilities in partner countries, Indian industries can produce raw materials locally rather than relying on imports. This not only reduces import costs but also strengthens the domestic manufacturing base and enhances self-reliance.
  • Technology transfer and knowledge sharing: Joint ventures provide opportunities for technology transfer and knowledge sharing between Indian industries and their foreign partners. This enables the adoption of advanced manufacturing processes, improved production techniques, and access to specialized expertise.
  • Market access: Joint ventures often come with market access agreements, allowing Indian industries to access new markets and expand their global reach. This helps in diversifying the customer base and increasing the export potential of Indian-made fertilizers.
  • Strengthening diplomatic ties: Joint ventures foster strong economic ties between India and partner countries. By engaging in collaborative projects, both nations benefit from increased trade, investment, and mutual cooperation.
  • Research and innovation: Joint ventures provide opportunities for joint research and innovation in fertilizer production. This collaboration can lead to the development of new and improved fertilizers, production processes, and technologies.

Diversifying the Product Portfolio

  • Expansion of NPK complexes: The government has focused on diversifying the product portfolio in the fertilizer sector, particularly by expanding the production of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) complexes. NPK complexes offer a wider range of fertilizers with different nutrient compositions, catering to the specific needs of various crops and soil conditions.
  • Introduction of alternative fertilizers: In line with the goal of diversification, the government has promoted the use of alternative fertilizers. These include organic fertilizers, bio-fertilizers, and bio-stimulants, which are derived from natural sources and have minimal environmental impact.
  • Innovative fertilizer formulations: To meet the diverse needs of different crops and agricultural practices, the government has encouraged the development of innovative fertilizer formulations. These formulations incorporate micronutrients, secondary nutrients, and growth-promoting substances, tailored to specific crop requirements.
  • Value-added fertilizers: The fertilizers are enriched with additional beneficial components such as organic matter, beneficial microbes, or growth regulators. Value-added fertilizers provide added advantages, such as improved soil fertility, enhanced nutrient uptake, and increased crop resilience.
  • Customized fertilizers for different crops: The government has encouraged the development of customized fertilizers tailored to the specific nutrient requirements of different crops. This approach acknowledges that different crops have varying nutrient demands at different growth stages.
  • Fertilizer innovation and research: The government has supported research and innovation in the fertilizer sector to drive product diversification. This includes investments in agricultural research institutions, collaboration with industry experts, and the establishment of research and development centers.


  • The four years of Modi 2.0 have been instrumental in driving India towards self-reliance, particularly in the crucial fertilizers sector. By diversifying the product portfolio and ensuring ample fertilizer supplies, India has taken significant steps towards achieving food security and fulfilling PM Modi’s vision of an Atmanirbhar Bharat

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Also read:

Why India needs a fresh Fertilizer Policy?


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