A parliamentary panel on Tuesday said that precise application of nano-urea at critical crop growth stages can replace 25 – 50% of usage of conventional application of soil nutrient thus resulting in savings on fertiliser subsidy.
“With the use of nano urea, the exchequer can save $3 billion equivalent to around Rs 25,000 crore in subsidy bill per year considering subsidy of approximately Rs 20,000 per metric tonne of urea,” the panel on ‘nano-fertiliser for sustainable crop production and maintaining soil health’ has said in a report.
Expressing concern about continuous increase in the import of urea over the years which rose from 5.48 million tonne (MT) in 2016-17 to 9.8 MT in 2020-21, the panel has stated that subsidy burden on account of urea import constitutes 26 % of the overall urea subsidy paid in a year by the government.
The commercial production of nano urea commenced on August 1, 2021 by India Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers
The government is aiming to increase the current annual production capacity of nano urea from the 50 million bottle (550 ml each) to 440 million bottles by 2025 thus would stop import of soil nutrient variety.
Out of total annual demand of 35 MT of urea, close to 29 MT is domestically produced and rest is imported.
Recently, the agriculture ministry gave the nod for introduction of nano-diammonium phosphate (nano-DAP) from next kharif season. More than half of the country’s DAP requirements are imported.
The parliamentary panel report stated that as per interim report of the International Rice Research Institute, if India’s 50% of rice cultivation area is brought under nano-urea, it would lead to reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 4.6 million tonne.
“Even if 20-30% of the urea that is going waste can be replaced and utilised, then the issue of greenhouse gas emission can be appropriately addressed,” the panel said.
The farmers pay a fixed price Rs 242 per bag (45 kg) of urea against the cost of production of around `2,650 per bag. The balance is provided by the government as a subsidy to manufacturing units.
Because of higher global prices caused by the Ukraine war, the fertilisers subsidy in 2022-23 has surged to a record `2.53 trillion.
While suggesting that nano fertilisers should be manufactured by both public and private sector companies, the parliamentary committee urged the government to to bring production of nano fertilizers under the production linked incentive scheme in order to give a boost to the fertilizer industry with a view to increasing the production of nano fertilisers.
The panel also recommended that department of fertilisers to play a proactive role to establish long term agreements for import of fertilizers’ raw materials and set-up joint venture plants in countries rich in fertilizers’ raw materials with buy back arrangements thereby assuring access to acquisition of the fertilizers’ raw materials abroad, in coordination with the ministry of external affairs, ministry of finance and other concerned departments and agencies.