The increasing pressure of population on
the available land resources, necessitates higher agricultural productivity,
which can be achieved through more intensive use of fertilizer nutrients.
Fertilizer is generally defined as any material (organic or inorganic;
natural or synthetic) which supplies one or more of the essential chemical
elements to the plants. Broadly, sixteen elements have been identified
as necessary for plant growth, of which nine are required in macro quantities
and seven in micro quantities.
The primary and secondary
nutrients are required in 'macro quantities'. 'Primary nutrients' include
nitrogen(N), phosphorus(P) and potassium(K). Indian soils are deficient
in nitrogen and phosphorus. Hence, chemical fertilizers are used to meet
the deficiency of these elements. For example, ammonium sulphate, ammonium
chloride, ammonium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate,urea, etc are a source
of nitrogen. Calcium(C), magnesium(Mg) and sulphur(S) are called 'secondary
nutrients' and are required for plant growth in relatively smaller quantities
than the primary nutrients. But, any deficiency of the secondary nutrients
reduces the efficiency of primary nutrient by restricting the yield to
low levels. Therefore, to obtain optimum results, crops have to be supplied
with secondary nutrient in addition to primary nutrients. Iron, zinc,
manganese, copper, boron, molybdenum and chlorine are a group of 'micronutrients'
which are required by the plants in small quantities. Intensive cropping
deplete all nutrients including micronutrients from the soil at a fast
rate. Therefore selective use of micronutrients is necessary for increasing
In India, Department
is the nodal organisation concerned with planning,
promotion and development of the fertilizer industry, together with monitoring
of production, imports, and distribution of fertilizers as well as management
of financial assistance for indigenous and imported fertilizers. The department
is divided into four divisions dealing with:-
- Fertilizer Projects
- Fertilizer Imports, Movement and Distribution
- Administration and
- Finance and Accounts.
Besides, it has under its
administrative control Ten public
sector undertakings (PSUs)
,one multi-state cooperative society (Krishak Bharati Cooperative Limited - KRIBHCO) and one joint sector company (Indian Potash Limited - IPL).
As far as production of fertilizers is concerned, the Indian fertilizer industry, by meeting the demand for almost all chemical fertilizers, has played a key role in the development of the agricultural sector. At present, there are 56 large size fertilizer units in the country, manufacturing a wide range of nitrogenous and phosphatic/ complex fertilizers. Of these, 30 units produce urea; 21 units produce DAP and complex fertilizers; 5 units produce low analysis straight nitrogenous fertilizers; and 9 units produce ammonium sulphate as a by-product. Besides, there are about 72 small and medium scale units producing single super phosphate (SSP). As a result, India is the third largest fertilizer producer in the world, with an estimated installed capacity of 120.61 lakh MT of nitrogen and 56.59 lakh MT of phosphate (as on 30.01.2008). This rapid build-up of fertilizer production capacity in the country has been achieved as a result of a favourable policy environment facilitating large investments in the public, co-operative and private sectors.
Of the three main nutrients
required for various crops (nitrogen, phosphate and potash), indigenous
raw materials are available mainly for nitrogen. Hence, the Government
policy has aimed at achieving the maximum possible degree of self-sufficiency
in the production of nitrogenous fertilizers based on utilisation of indigenous
While, in case of phosphates, the paucity of domestic raw material constraints the attainment of any degree of self-sufficiency. Hence, a policy-mix has been adopted which involves the modulation of three options:- i) domestic production based on indigenous or imported rock phosphate and imported sulphur; ii) domestic production based on imported intermediates like ammonia and phosphoric acid; and iii) import of finished fertilizer like Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) and very rarely, Mono Ammonium Phosphate (MAP) and Nitrogen Phosphate Potash (NPK) complexes. During 2006-07, roughly 77% of the requirement of phosphatic fertilizers is met through the first two options. However, the share of imported finished fertilizers is increasing.
But, with respect
to potassic fertilizers, there are no known commercially exploitable reserves
of potash in the country and the entire requirement of these fertilizers
is met through imports. Even in the case of complex fertilizers containing
potash, the potassic content is entirely import based.
Apart from production
of fertilizers, it is equally imperative that the fertilizers are made
available to farmers at the right time and at affordable prices, in order
to ensure sustained agricultural growth and to promote balanced nutrient
application. With this objective, urea (being the only controlled fertilizer)
is sold at statutorily notified 'uniform sale price', and decontrolled
phosphatic and potassic fertilizers are sold at indicative 'maximum retail
prices' (MRPs). Since the statutorily notified sale price and indicative
MRP is generally less than the cost of production of the respective manufacturing
unit, the difference is paid as subsidy or concession to manufacturers.
This support to the manufacturers is provided under the 'New
Pricing Scheme for urea units' and the 'Concession
Scheme for decontrolled phosphatic and potassic fertilizers'. Also,
as the consumer prices of both indigenous and imported fertilizers are
fixed uniformly, financial support is given on imported urea and decontrolled
phosphatic and potassic fertilizers. Besides, special measures have been
taken to streamline distribution of available supplies through better
transport, regulated supplies to priority crops and areas specified by
the State Governments.
The Government ensures
the quality of fertilizers through 'Fertilizer Control Order (FCO)' issued
under the 'Essential Commodities Act (ECA)' to regulate the price, trade,
quality and distribution of fertilizers in the country. The State Governments
are the executing agencies to implement the various provisions of FCO.
The Order strictly prohibits the manufacture, import and sale of any fertilizer,
which does not meet prescribed standards. The 'Central
Fertilizer Quality Control and Training Institute at Faridabad' and
its 3 regional centres have been set up for inspection and analysis of
imported and indigenous fertilizers, giving technical advice and providing
training on quality control to state enforcement agencies and analysts.
The FCO has been recently amended to make it more user friendly and ensuring
effective enforcement. Printing of Maximum Retail Price (MRP) on all fertilizers
including urea is now mandatory along with the printing of month and year
of manufacture or import of fertilizer.
In order to
promote the use of bio-fertilisers as an environment friendly and cheaper
source of plant nutrients, a 'National Project on Development and Use
of Bio fertilizers' was started by the Government during the sixth plan
and has been subsumed under a new Central sector scheme of 'National Project
on Organic Farming' from October 2004. As a result, National
Centre of Organic Farming (NCOF) and Regional Centres of Organic Farming (RCOF), have been set up for promotion, extension, training and demonstration of bio-fertilizers. As per available information, there are around 125 bio-fertilizers production units in the country with an annual capacity of about 18,000 tonnes of different types of bio-fertilisers.
Besides, the Government
is also implementing a new scheme 'National
Project on Organic Farming
' since October 2004 with an outlay of Rs
57.05 crore for production, promotion, market development of organic farming
in the country. The main components of the scheme include:-
in place a system of certification of organic produce
- Capacity building
through service providers
- Financial support for commercial production
units for production of organic inputs like fruits and vegetable waste
compost units bio fertilizers production; hatcheries for vermi culture
- Promotion, extension and market development of organic farming.
As a result of all such efforts, consumption of chemical fertilizers (in terms of nutrients) has broadly shown an increasing trend. Today, India is the third largest consumer of fertilizers in the world. The consumption of major fertilizers namely, Urea, DAP and MOP are estimated to be 244.84, 69.24 and 23.93 lakh million tonnes respectively during 2006-07. The annual consumption of fertilizers in nutrient terms (N, P and K) has increased from 0.7 lakh MT in 1951-52 to 216.52 lakh MT in 2006-07. While, the per hectare consumption of fertilizers has increased from 69.8 kg in 1991-92 to 113.3 kg in 2006-07 at an average rate of 3.3 per cent. The All-India average consumption of fertilizers has also registered an increase in 2006-07 over 2005-06 from 104.5 kg/ha to 112.76 kg/ha. A great deal of variability has been observed among the States. The per ha consumption is 219.48 kg in Andhra Pradesh, 209.59 kg in Punjab and 186.68 kg in Tamil Nadu, whereas, the consumption is comparatively low in Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, etc. The consumption is just 5 kg/ha in some of the North-Eastern States. Considering the skewed pattern of fertilizer use, Government of India is promoting balanced and integrated use of fertilizer nutrients.