Category: Demand vs Supply

Correcting imbalance in fertilizer use – SHC alone won’t help

In 2015, prime minister, Modi had launched National Soil-Health-Card [NSHC] scheme with the objective of galvanizing farmers to replenish seriously degraded soils caused by excessive fertilizer use over several years. It seeks to promote a more judicious mix of fertilizers by testing soil samples of each farm household across the country on 12 parameters and prescribing recommendations on use. To test soil, the country’s cropped area is divided into grids of 10 hectares (ha) for rain-dependent farms and 2.5 ha for irrigated land. One soil sample from each grid is taken and test results are distributed to farmers whose lands fall under the relevant grid. These show which ingredients are depleted or are present in excess. Their soils need to...
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Urea – Modi’s clarion call may lead to its under-use

Addressing the 38th edition of ‘Mann Ki Baat’, the prime minister said, “Can our farmers take a pledge to bring down urea use by half by 2022? If they promise to use less urea in agriculture, the fertility of the land will increase. The lives of farmers will start improving.” Modi made the statement in the backdrop of ‘World Soil Day’ on December 5 and deteriorating health of the soil world over, an overarching factor contributing to this is excessive use of urea. The positive correlation between excessive use of urea and erosion in soil health is an incontrovertible fact proven by several studies and also acknowledged in the Economic Survey and other official documents. This is a phenomenon that...
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Fertilizer reforms – time for big bang

An official from the department of fertilizers is reported to have said that by putting 45 kg of urea in a bag, it is possible to achieve 10% saving in consumption. His logic is that farmer calculates requirements on per acre basis. He needs 90 kg which can be met with 2 bags of 45 kg each against current practice of using two bags of 50 kg each. Are we to infer that until hitherto, 10% urea was going waste as he was forced to buy 100 kg – against need of 90 kg – and that loss will now be prevented with use of 45 kg bag? How come such an innovative idea did not strike policy makers earlier?...
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Self-sufficiency in fertilizers – building castles in the air

Union Minister for chemicals and fertilizers, Ananth Kumar has announced government’s decision to revive five closed plants of Fertilizer Corporation of India [FCIL] and Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation Limited [HFCL] viz. Talcher [Odisha], Ramagundum [Telengana], Sindri [Jharkhand], Barauni [Bihar] and Gorakhpur [Uttar Pradesh]. To be commissioned by 2020-21, their revival is expected to add 7.5 million tons [mt] of urea capacity. Kumar has also exuded confidence that the decision of the government to make neem coating of urea mandatory [2015] will result in 10% improvement in the efficiency of fertilizer use. Taking urea consumption of about 33 mt annually, this will result in saving of about 3.3 mt. The minister also referred to steps aimed at enticing manufacturers to increase utilization...
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Gains from neem coating urea – real or imaginary!

The exhortations by prime minister, Modi and his cabinet colleague, chemicals and fertilizer minister, Ananth Kumar regarding the success of neam coating of urea [ordered by Modi last year to cover all of domestic production and import] could have much deeper ramifications than mere stoppage of diversion to industrial use and smuggling to neighboring countries. The total consumption of urea in India is about 30 million tons annually including 22 million ton indigenous and 8 million tons imported. Since, all of this is sold by manufacturers/importers at a low ‘controlled’ price under the Fertilizer Control Order [FCO], the excess of cost of production/import and distribution over this price is reimbursed to them as subsidy by Government of India [GOI]. For...
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Tata exit from fertilizers – symptomatic of deeper malaise

Tata Chemicals Limited [TCL] made headlines on August 10, 2016 by announcing sale of its urea business [it has a plant in Babrala, Uttar Pradesh with 700,000 tons ammonia and 1.2 million ton urea capacity] to Yara Fertilizers India Private Limited [YFIL] – Indian arm of Norway’s Yara lnternational ASA – for a sum of Rs 2670 crores [after obtaining all regulatory approvals and court sanction, the transaction will be consummated within 9-12 months]. TCL had decided to exit fertilizers long back. However, a number of earlier attempts had failed as it did not find any taker; even this one is a distress sale and will fetch the company only 2/3rd of the money so far invested. Tata has also...
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REVIVING INDIA’S FERTILISER PLANTS

Efforts by successive Government’s to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of fertilisers have failed. The Modi Government should broaden its options and look for expansion of existing units or set up joint ventures abroad The Coal India Limited (CIL) and the National Thermal Power Corporation limited (NTPC) signed a joint venture agreement to revive the Sindri (Jharkhand) and Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) plants of the Fertiliser Corporation of India (FCIL), at an estimated cost of about Rs 18,000 crore, over the next four years. CIL and NTPC operate in coal and power sectors respectively and both have their plates full to meet their commitments in those areas to help India achieve the growth target. But, given fertiliser is a different cup...
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Fertilizer woes – quick fix won’t work

On July 4, 2016, the minister for chemicals and fertilizers, Ananth Kumar announced government’s decision to reduce maximum retail price [MRP] of non-urea fertilizers viz., DAP [di-ammonium phosphate: 18% nitrogen [N] & 46% phosphate [P]]; MOP [muriate of potash] [60% potash [K]] and complex fertilizers [contain N, P and K in different proportions] with immediate effect. The retail price of DAP has been reduced by Rs 2,500 per ton to Rs 22,000/tonne, MOP by Rs 5,000 per ton to Rs 11,000/tonne and those of complex fertilizers by Rs 1,000/tonne on an average. The minister went on to say that the rate cut would entail a benefit of Rs 4,500 crore to farmers and help promote balanced use of fertilizers. On...
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‘Make in India’ skips fertilizers

Even as Modi – government has unleashed a wave of reforms to accelerate the pace of foreign direct investment [FDI] and give a boost to prime minister’s flagship “Make in India”, fertilizers happens to be one sector that has been completely bypassed. While, indigenous production in all segments of this crucial industry continues to languish, the most neglected is DAP [di-ammonium phosphate; it contains 18% nitrogen [N] and 46% phosphate [P]] where traders have hey-day at the expense of domestic industry. Of the total DAP consumption in India, nearly 60% is met from imports. India is the single biggest buyer of DAP in global market with a share of more than 50 per cent of globally-traded DAP. Even for domestically-manufactured...
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Revival of sick fertilizer PSUs – a mirage

The revival of sick plants of two central public sector undertakings [PSUs] viz., Fertilizer Corporation of India Limited [FCIL] and Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation Limited [HFCL] is once again in the news. Last year, the Union Cabinet had approved a plan to revive the Barauni [Bihar] of [HFCL], Gorakhpur [UP] and Sindri [Jharkhand] of FCIL through auctions. Having failed to get a good response through this route, the central government had asked cash-rich PSUs viz., Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited [ONGC], National Thermal Power Corporation limited [NTPC] and Coal India Limited [CIL] to adopt one closed urea plant each for revival. Accordingly, CIL and NTPC have signed an agreement to form a joint venture [JV] to revive Sindri and Gorakhpur...
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