GOVT PLANS PANACEA FOR POOR YIELD, FARMERS’ POVERTY
Saturday, 06 January 2018 | Rajesh Kumar | New Delhi-
In an attempt to boost agricultural production, doubling farmers’ income and reducing the cost of cultivation, the Narendra Modi Government has decided to introduce customised fertilisers (CFs) across the country.
CF is prepared by tweaking the proportions of urea and micronutrients in a way that the end products are suited to meet the special needs of varied types of soil, crops, and climate. And it is understood that the use of CF will increase the agriculture production by 30 per cent and also ensure that the soil fertility is safeguarded.
According to Department of Fertilisers to address the special need of a region or crop and to optimise the benefit of fertilisers in a cost-effective manner, farmers and fertilisers companies are being asked to focus on customised fertilisers.
Apart from Tata Chemicals, Zuari Agro, Coromandel Fertilisers, Deepak Fertilisers, Petrochemicals Corp and Nagarjuna Fertilisers are some of the companies which are betting big on customised fertilisers. It is estimated that over Rs 700 crore investments would be made by these companies to make need-based soil nutrients. Several private companies aim to set up over the dozen of new customised fertilisers’ plants at an approximate investment of Rs 60 crore each.
Officials said after the introduction of soil health cards in 2015, there has been a paradigm shift in fertiliser use from straight conventional fertilisers to CF.
“Soil fertility status, climate, and cropping pattern in a region are considered while developing CF formulations. nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) remain the major ones for increased and sustained productivity. Even though, P and K lagged behind N application in many parts of northern India, stimulating imbalanced plant nutrition and negative P and K input-output balances,” said officials.
With the CF, the farmer can do away with DAP, MOP or ZnS and, instead, just apply customised fertilisers. Wheat or rice, for example, require more nitrogen, while phosphorous is the most important nutrient in pulses and potassium is indispensable for tomato, banana or pineapple. “So far only private companies are keen to produce CF. But there is a serious consideration to boost the manufacture of CF across the county,” said senior officials of the Ministry of Chemical and Fertilisers.
Tata Chemical’s CF product ‘Paras Farmoola’ has been rigorously tested through more than 300 research experiments conducted on the field and at 12 Krishi Vigyan Kendras. Field trials have been conducted on over 20,000 samples of crops such as paddy, wheat, potato, maize and sugarcane from 25 districts in western Uttar Pradesh. The fertilisers are produced at the company’s state-of-the-art, 1,30,000 MT capacity facility at Babrala, Uttar Pradesh.
Officials said CF units can be set up with low investments in the range of Rs 50-60 crore and the gestation period for every unit is only 7-10 months. In comparison, a urea plant typically needs an initial investment of about Rs 400 to 500 crore and has a turn-around period of three to
Defending the use of CF, Binod Pandey of Rashtriya Kisan Mahasanghthan said the use of CF will boost the crops production and reduce expenses in cultivation. “Currently, I may be applying two bags of urea, which only contains 46 per cent nitrogen. If my field is deficient in sulphur, it might make sense to replace one bag of urea with ammonium sulphate that has 20.6 per cent nitrogen and also 24 per cent sulphur,” he said.
Research conducted on soils in Raipur has shown that the application of 150 per cent dose of CF produced highest grain yield of wheat (4.4 tonne per hectare ), which was 28.27 per cent higher than that of State recommended dose.
“Presently, such fertilisers are in use for wheat, paddy, sugarcane, mentha and potato. Every year, fertiliser grade is changed depending upon the condition of soil at that point of time. The cost of customised fertilisers is the same as that of normal fertilisers,” Pandey said.
On the other hand, officials said Nagarjuna Fertilisers, as part of its expansion project at Kakinada plant in Andhra Pradesh, is also in the process of setting up CF unit at a cost of Rs160-170 million. Pune-based Deepak Fertilisers is also planning to make a huge investment on CF.
The production of urea during 2015-16 was 244.75 lakh metric tonnes with the contribution of Public Sector, cooperative sector and private sector as 70.80, 69.36 and 104.59 lakh metric tonnes respectively. At present, there are 30 urea units in our country. Out of these thirty urea units, 27 urea units use Natural Gas (using either domestic gas/LNG or both) as feedstock and fuel and remaining three urea units viz (i) MCFL Mangalore (ii) MFL, Manali and (iii) SPIC Turicorin use Naptha as feedstock and fuel.
The total production of urea in 2016-17 was 242.01 lakh metric tonnes as compared to annual assessment capacity of 207.54 lakh million tonnes. In 2015-16, the total production was 244.75 lakh metric tonnes with the contribution of public, cooperative and private sectors as 70.80, 69.36 and 104.59 lakh metric tonnes respectively.
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