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

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

[pib] India to become self-reliant in Phosphatic Fertilizers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fertilizers

Mains level : Fertilizer subsidies in India

The Department of Fertilisers is ready with an Action Plan to make India Aatmanirbhar in Rock Phosphate, the key raw material of DAP and NPK Fertilizers.

What are Phosphatic Fertilizers?

  • Phosphorus is the eleventh most abundant element on the earth. Commercial phosphate fertilizers are manufactured using phosphate rock.
  • Approximately two-thirds of the world’s phosphate resources are derived from sedimentary and marine phosphate rock deposits.
  • Ground rock phosphate has been used as a source of phosphorous for soils in the past.
  • However, due to the low concentration of phosphorous in this native material, high transportation costs, and small crop responses, the usage of rock phosphate has reduced considerably in agriculture.
  • On the other hand, the usage of phosphorous based fertilizers has grown significantly.

Which are the most common Ph fertilizers?

  • The most commonly used phosphatic fertilizers are Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), Monoammonium Phosphate (MAP), NPKs, and SSP.
  • DAP is the world’s most widely used phosphorus fertilizer. It is popular due to its relatively high nutrient content and its excellent physical properties.
  • DAP is an excellent source of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) for plant nutrition.
  • It provides the correct proportion of phosphorous and nitrogen for the farming of grains such as wheat, barley, fruits, and vegetables.
  • NPKs, also called compound fertilizers, are fertilizers that contain all three nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in different proportions.

Also read

[pib] Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) for Phosphatic & Potassic (P&K) Fertilizers

Why need Phosphorus?

  • Phosphorus is an essential nutrient required for plant growth. It helps in root development, plant maturation, and seed development.
  • If soils are deficient in phosphorus, food production becomes restricted, unless the nutrient is added in the form of fertilizers.
  • Hence, to increase food production, an adequate amount of phosphorus is required.
  • Along with nitrogen and potassium, phosphorus is one of the most important elements for plant life.
  • Soil gets depleted of phosphorus due to several reasons including being washed away by rain. Therefore, modern farming is reliant on the use of phosphorus-based fertilizers.

Consumption in India

  • Rock Phosphate is the key raw material for DAP and NPK fertilisers and India is 90% dependent on imports.
  • Volatility in international prices affects the domestic prices of fertilisers and hinders the progress and development of the agriculture sector in the country.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.What are the advantages of fertigation in agriculture? (CSP 2020)

1.Controlling the alkalinity of irrigation water is possible.
2. Efficient application of Rock Phosphate and all other phosphatic fertilizers is possible.
3. Increased availability of nutrients to plants is possible.
4. Reduction in the leaching of chemical nutrients is possible.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 1,2 and 4 only

(c) 1,3 and 4 only

(d) 2, 3 and 4 only

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

[pib] Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) for Phosphatic & Potassic (P&K) Fertilizers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Scheme

Mains level : Fertilizer subsidies in India

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Department of Fertilizers for fixation of Nutrient Based Subsidy Rates for P&K Fertilizers for the year 2021-22.

Key Points

About Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP):

  • DAP is the second most commonly used fertiliser in India after urea.
  • Farmers normally apply this fertiliser just before or at the beginning of sowing, as it is high in phosphorus (P) that stimulates root development.
  • DAP (46% P, 18% Nitrogen) is the preferred source of Phosphorus for farmers. This is similar to urea, which is their preferred nitrogenous fertiliser containing 46% N.

About Subsidy Scheme for Fertilisers:

    • Under the current scheme, the MRP of Urea is fixed but the subsidy can vary while MRP of DAP is decontrolled (i.e subsidy is fixed but the MRP can vary).
    • All Non-Urea based fertilisers are regulated under Nutrient Based Subsidy Scheme.

About Nutrient-Based Subsidy (NBS) Regime:

    • Under the NBS regime – fertilizers are provided to the farmers at the subsidized rates based on the nutrients (N, P, K & S) contained in these fertilizers.
    • Also, the fertilizers which are fortified with secondary and micronutrients such as molybdenum (Mo) and zinc are given additional subsidy.
    • The subsidy on Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers is announced by the Government on an annual basis for each nutrient on a per kg basis – which are determined taking into account the international and domestic prices of P&K fertilizers, exchange rate, inventory level in the country etc.
    • NBS policy intends to increase the consumption of P&K fertilizers so that optimum balance (N:P:K= 4:2:1) of NPK fertilization is achieved.
      • This would improve soil health and as a result the yield from the crops would increase, resulting in enhanced income to the farmers.
      • Also, as the government expects rational use of fertilizers, this would also ease off the burden of fertilizer subsidy.
    • It is being implemented from April 2010 by the Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers.

Issues Related to NBS:

1.Imbalance in Price of Fertilisers:

  • Urea is left-out in the scheme and hence it remains under price control as NBS has been implemented only in other fertilizers.
  • There is an imbalance as the price of fertilizers (other than urea) — which were decontrolled have gone up from 2.5 to four times during the 2010-2020 decade.
  • However, since 2010, the price of urea has increased only by 11%. This has led to farmers using more urea than before, which has further worsened fertilizer imbalance.

2.Costs on Economy and Environment :

Fertilizer subsidy is the second-biggest subsidy after food subsidy, the NBS policy is not only damaging the fiscal health of the economy but also proving detrimental to the soil health of the country.

3.Black Marketing :

  • Subsidised urea is getting diverted to bulk buyers/traders or even non-agricultural users such as plywood and animal feed makers.
  • It is being smuggled to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal.

Implications of Increasing the Subsidy on DAP :

  • As farmers will start sowing operations for Kharif Crops, it is highly important for them to get the fertilisers at subsidised rate so as to keep inflation at check.
  • Politically, too, to turn down the farmer protests, during the time of the Covid’s second wave, is the last thing the government would want.

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

[pib] Fertilizer Subsidy in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fertilizer subsidies in India

Mains level : Not Much

A historic decision was taken to increase the subsidy for DAP fertiliser from Rs. 500 per bag to Rs. 1200 per bag, which is an increase of 140%.

Hike in subsidies

  • It was discussed that the price of fertilizers is undergoing an increase due to the rising prices of phosphoric acid, ammonia etc internationally.
  • Despite the rise in international market prices of DAP, it has been decided to continue selling it at the older price of Rs.1200 and the central government has decided to bear all the burden of price hike.
  • The amount of subsidy per bag has never been increased so much at once.

Fertilizer Subsidy in India

  • Subsidy as a concept originated during the Green Revolution of the 1970s-80s.
  • Fertiliser subsidy is purchasing by the farmer at a price below MRP (Maximum Retail Price), that is, below the usual demand-and-supply-rate, or regular production and import cost.
  • Fertiliser subsidy ultimately goes to the fertiliser company, even though it is the farmer that benefits.
  • Before 2018, companies were reimbursed after the material was dispatched and received by the district railhead or designated godown.
  • 2018 saw the beginning of DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer), which would transfer money directly to the retailer’s account.
  • However, the companies will be paid only after the actual sale to the farmer.

Put answers in the comment box for this PYQ:

Q.What are the advantages of fertigation in agriculture? (CSP 2020)

1.Controlling the alkalinity of irrigation water is possible.
2. Efficient application of Rock Phosphate and all other phosphatic fertilizers is possible.
3. Increased availability of nutrients to plants is possible.
4. Reduction in the leaching of chemical nutrients is possible.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 1,2 and 4 only

(c) 1,3 and 4 only

(d) 2, 3 and 4 only

How is the subsidy paid and who gets it?

  • The subsidy goes to fertiliser companies, although its ultimate beneficiary is the farmer who pays MRPs less than the market-determined rates.
  • Companies, until recently, were paid after their bagged material had been dispatched and received at a district’s railhead point or approved godown.
  • From March 2018, a new so-called direct benefit transfer (DBT) system was introduced, wherein subsidy payment to the companies would happen only after actual sales to farmers by retailers.
  • With the DBT system, each retailer — there is over 2.3 lakh of them across India — now has a point-of-sale (PoS) machine linked to the Department of Fertilizers’ e-Urvarak DBT portal.

How does this system work?

  • A popular example of how this system works is that of the neem coated urea fertiliser.
  • Its MRP (Maximum Retail Price) is fixed by the government at Rs. 5922.22 per tonne.
  • The average cost of domestic production is at Rs 17,000 per tonne. The difference is footed by the centre in the form of subsidy.
  • This fertiliser has high Nitrogen content and is cheaper than usual fertilizers.
  • While this may be perceived as a good thing, excess of Nitrogen can disrupt the NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) balance in the soil.

What about non-urea fertilizers?

  • The non-urea fertiliser is decontrolled or fixed by the companies.
  • However, the government pays a flat per tonne subsidy to maintain the nutrition content of the soil, and ensure other fertilizers are economical to use.
  • The non- urea fertilizers are further divided into two parts, DAP (Diammonium Phosphate) and MOP (Muriate of Phosphate).

Issues with such subsidies

  • A flawed subsidy policy is harmful not just for the farmer, but to the environment as well.
  • Indian soil has low Nitrogen use efficiency, which is the main constituent of Urea. Consequently, excess usage contaminates groundwater.
  • The bulk of urea applied to the soil is lost as NH3 (Ammonia) and Nitrogen Oxides. The WHO has prescribed limits been breached by Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
  • For human beings, “blue baby syndrome” is a common side ailment caused by Nitrate contaminated water.
  • This hampers the ability of the body to carry Nitrogen, with a high probability of death.

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

How dangerous is Ammonia?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ammoni compounds and its uses

Mains level : Not Much

Two persons died and several took ill in a major ammonia gas leakage at a fertilizers unit at Prayagraj.

Try this PYQ:

Q. With reference to chemical fertilizers in India, consider the following statements:

  1. At present, the retail price of chemical fertilizers is market-driven and not administered by the Government.
  2. Ammonia, which is an input of urea, is produced from natural gas.
  3. Sulphur, which is a raw material for phosphoric acid fertilizer, is a by-product of all oil refineries.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 2 only

(d) 1,2 and 3

Ammonia

  • Ammonia is critical in the manufacturing of fertilizers and is one of the largest-volume synthetic chemicals produced in the world.
  • More than 80 per cent of ammonia made is consumed in the manufacturing of fertilizer, and most of the remainder goes into the production of formaldehyde.
  • A tri-hydroid of nitrogen (NH3), ammonia is a building block for ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) that is used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer.

Why is it harmful?

  • According to experts in Chemistry, ammonia is stored for industrial use in liquid form under high pressure or in gaseous form at low temperature.
  • In such cases, the cause of death is always suffocation as in the case of Prayagraj incident, the victims must have been very close to the point of a gas leak.

Effects on the human body

  • Ammonia, even in moderate concentration, can cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose and throat.
  • It interacts immediately upon contact with moisture present in the skin, eyes, oral cavity, and respiratory tract to form ammonium hydroxide.
  • It is very caustic and disrupts the cell membrane lipids, ultimately leading to cellular destruction.
  • As cell proteins break down, water is extracted, resulting in an inflammatory response that causes further damage.

Secretion in humans

  • Ammonia, which is highly soluble in water, is found in soil, air, and water; it is naturally present in the body.
  • It is secreted by the kidneys to neutralize excess acid.
  • However, it is highly diluted when in the environment and does not affect the human body to a noticeable level.

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

[pib] Calcium Nitrate and Boronated Calcium Nitrate

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Calcium Nitrate

Mains level : India's import dependence of fertilizers

Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers has launched an indigenous variety of fertilizers- ‘Calcium Nitrate’ & ‘Boronated Calcium Nitrate’.

Try this PYQ:

Why does the Government of India promote the use of ‘Neem-coated Urea’ in agriculture?

(a) Release of Neem oil in the soil increases nitrogen fixation by the soil microorganisms

(b) Neem coating slows down the rate of dissolution of urea in the soil

(c) Nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas, is not at all released into atmosphere by crop fields

(d) It is a combination of a weedicide and a fertilizer for particular crops

What is Calcium Nitrate?

  • Calcium nitrate is used as a water-soluble fertilizer in agriculture. In addition, this product is also used in wastewater treatment and to increase the strength of cement concrete.
  • Last year, around 1.25 lakh metric tons (1,23,000 tons) of Calcium Nitrate was imported in the country.
  • Of this, 76% was imported from China and the rest from other countries like Norway and Israel.
  • These indigenous varieties will provide a quality product at a cheaper rate to the farmer community in the country than imported ones.

Uses of Calcium nitrate

  • The fertilizer grade calcium nitrate is popular in the greenhouse and hydroponics. It is also used to control certain plant diseases.
  • Calcium nitrate is also used in wastewater pre-conditioning for odour emission prevention.

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

[pib] Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates and its fixation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NBS schemes

Mains level : NBS scheme and its benefits

Union Cabinet has approved fixation of Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers for the year 2020-21.

 

Fertilizer subsidy  accounts for large fiscal subsidies (about 0.73 lakh crore or 0.5 per cent of GDP), the second-highest after food.  We can expect a question like – “Discuss the role of NBS in ensuring land fertility and farm productivity in India.”

 

About Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Scheme

  • The NBS Scheme for fertilizer was initiated in the year 2010 and is being implemented by the Department of Fertilizers.
  • Government is making available fertilizers, Urea and 21 grades of P&K fertilizers to farmers at subsidized prices through fertilizer manufacturers/importers.

What NBS provides?

  • The scheme allows the manufacturers, marketers, and importers to fix the MRP of the Phosphatic and Potash fertilizers at reasonable levels.
  • The MRP will be decided considering the domestic and international prices of P&K fertilizers, inventory level in the country and the exchange rates.
  • The NBS ensures that adequate quantity of P&K is made available to the farmers at a statutory controlled price.

Fertilizers covered

  • Under this, a fixed amount of subsidy decided on an annual basis is provided on each grade of subsidized Phosphatic and Potassic (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.

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

[pib] APNA UREA – SonaUgle

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : APNA UREA - SonaUgle

Mains level : Not Much

 

APNA UREA – SonaUgle

  • The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers launched the “APNA UREA – SonaUgle” brand of Hindustan Urvarak & Rasayan Limited (HURL).
  • HURL is Joint Venture Company promoted by the three Maharatna Companies i.e. Coal India Limited (CIL), NTPC Limited (NTPC) and Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) as the lead promoters with FCIL and HFCL as other two partners.
  • The commissioning of the HURL’s three Units in the states of UP, Bihar and Jharkhand will open forward and backward linkages for business activity in the Eastern part of India.
  • It will be instrumental in opening new avenues for the generation of income and employment in the Eastern part of our country.

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

Glyphosate-based herbicides

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Glyphosate and its hazards

Mains level : Read the attached story


  • Monsanto (the company Bayer acquired in 2018) produces the glyphosate based herbicides which allegedly has cancer risks.

Glyphosate based herbicides

  • The herbicides are based on a compound called glyphosate.
  • First developed in 1970, glyphosate is scientifically N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine under the IUPAC system of nomenclature.
  • It is applied to the leaves of plants to kill weeds. It is widely used in India, too.

Usage in India

  • According to a 2016 bulletin published by the ICAR the weedkiller in India goes by various brand names, including Roundup, Glycel, and Brake.
  • Glyphosate was highly accepted by the tea planters in the past two decades. It has a very good market size in the tea sector of West Bengal and Assam.
  • Presently, the consumption of glyphosate is highest in Maharashtra as it is becoming a key herbicide in sugarcane, maize and many fruit crops including mango, banana, grapes, pomegranate and citrus.
  • France, Italy, and Vietnam banned the herbicide’s use after the WHO finding.

Issues over Glyphosate

  • In 2015, the WHO study found that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
  • Since then activists have been campaigning against glyphosate-based products.
  • The herbicide is needed for agriculture and is used in many countries, including the US, China, Brazil and Canada.
  • The harmful effects on human health are yet to be established as the WHO has not issued any advisory.

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

[pib] Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) for fertilizers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nutrient based subsidies for fertilizers

Mains level : various initiatives for reducing input costs for farmers

  • 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 2019-20.

Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Scheme

  • The NBS Scheme for fertilizer was initiated in the year 2010 and is being implemented by the Department of Fertilizers.
  • Government is making available fertilizers, Urea and 21 grades of P&K fertilizers to farmers at subsidized prices through fertilizer manufacturers/importers.
  • Under the scheme, a fixed amount of subsidy decided on an annual basis is provided on each grade of subsidized Phosphatic and Potassic (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 NBS provides?

  • The scheme allows the manufacturers, marketers, and importers to fix the MRP of the Phosphatic and Potash fertilizers at reasonable levels.
  • The MRP will be decided considering the domestic and international prices of P&K fertilizers, inventory level in the country and the exchange rates.
  • The NBS ensures that adequate quantity of P&K is made available to the farmers at a statutory controlled price.
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