From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NPK fertilizers, Soil Health Card
Mains level : Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Scheme
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Department of Fertilizers for fixation of Nutrient Based Subsidy Rates for P&K Fertilizers for the year last quarter of the year 2021-22.
An aspirant from rural agrarian background is quite habitual to hear about NPK 10-26-26, 20-20-0-13 & 12-32-16. They often get to find the plastic gunny bags mentioning this!
Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS)
- The NBS Scheme for fertilizer was initiated in the year 2010 and is being implemented by the Department of Fertilizers.
- Under the scheme, a fixed amount of subsidy decided on an annual basis is provided on each grade of subsidized P&K fertilizers, except for Urea based on the nutrient content present in them.
- It is largely for secondary nutrients like N, P, S and K and micronutrients which are very important for crop growth and development.
- In India, urea is the only controlled fertilizer and is sold at a statutory notified uniform sale price.
What is NPK?
- So now that you know what the numbers on fertilizer mean, you need to know why NPK is important to your plants.
- All plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to grow. Without enough of any one of these nutrients, a plant will fail.
- Nitrogen (N): It is largely responsible for the growth of leaves on the plant.
- Phosphorus (P): It is largely responsible for root growth and flower and fruit development.
- Potassium (K): It is a nutrient that helps the overall functions of the plant perform correctly.
- Knowing the NPK values of fertilizer can help you select one that is appropriate for the type of plant you are growing.
What NBS provides?
- Fixing MRP of NPK fertilizers: The scheme allows the manufacturers, marketers, and importers to fix the MRP of the Phosphatic and Potash fertilizers at reasonable levels.
- Maintaining stock level: The MRP will be decided considering the domestic and international prices of P&K fertilizers, inventory level in the country and the exchange rates.
- Inflation control: The NBS ensures that an adequate quantity of P&K is made available to the farmers at a statutory controlled price.
Issues with NBS
- Leaves urea: Urea which the most widely used, is left-out in the scheme and hence it remains under price control as NBS has been implemented only in other fertilizers.
- Cost on exchequer: Fertilizer subsidy is the second-biggest subsidy after food subsidy.
- Costs on Economy and Environment: The NBS policy is not only damaging the fiscal health of the economy but also proving detrimental to the soil health of the country.
- Black marketing: Subsidised fertilizers is getting diverted to bulk buyers/traders or even non-agricultural users such as plywood and animal feed makers.
Back2Basics: Soil Health Card (SHC)
- Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme is promoted by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
- An SHC is meant to give each farmer soil nutrient status of his/her holding and advice him/her on the dosage of fertilizers and also the needed soil amendments, that s/he should apply to maintain soil health in the long run.
- SHC is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings.
- It will be made available once in a cycle of 2 years, which will indicate the status of soil health of a farmer’s holding for that particular period.
- The SHC given in the next cycle of 2 years will be able to record the changes in the soil health for that subsequent period.
Parameters of SHC:
- N, P, K (Macro-nutrients)
- Sulfur (S) (Secondary- nutrient)
- Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, Bo (Micronutrients)
- pH, EC (Electrical conductivity) , OC (Organic content)
Try this PYQ:
The nation-wide ‘Soil Health Card Scheme’ aims at:
- expanding the cultivable area under irrigation.
- enabling the banks to assess the quantum of loans to be granted to farmers on the basis of soil quality.
- checking the overuse of fertilizers in farmlands.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Post your answers here.