India is 3rd largest producer of fertilizer after China & the US and India is 2nd largest consumer of fertilizer after china. Production of all fertilizers (NPK) increased from 1059 thousand tonnes in 1970-71 to 16092 thousand tonnes in 2013-14 recording more than 15 times increase in 4 ½ decades. All India’s average fertilizers consumption is 165 kg/ha of NPK but there are huge variations from states to states.
Bio-fertilizers add nutrients through the natural processes of nitrogen fixation, solubilizing phosphorus, and stimulating plant growth through the synthesis of growth-promoting substances. Organic fertilizers are naturally occurring fertilizers (e.g. compost, manure).
- The sector is relatively unorganised and unregulated compared to the chemical fertiliser industry, according to State of Biofertilizers and Organic Fertilizers in India report by Delhi-based think-tank the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
- The production of organic- and bio-fertilisers is restricted to only a few states and the sector receives much less attention and support from central as well as state governments.
- The overall budgetary allocation to promote organic and natural farming in India is low. A level-playing field is missing for manufacturers of biofertilisers and organic fertilisers as well as for farmers willing to use non-chemical fertiliser options because of the heavy subsidies afforded to chemical fertilisers.
- Budgetary allocations and funds spent by the government on this sector are very limited, despite being allocated through multiple schemes. Similarly, funds from the central government allocated for schemes aimed at providing support to infrastructure and manufacturing have largely remained underutilised and have not seen much uptake in states.
- The scheme to promote city compost has been discontinued since October, 2021. State initiatives are largely limited to implementation of central schemes, despite huge scope for production- and procurement-related support.
- Government support for farm-level extension, training of farmers as well as local, small manufactures is inadequate. Research and development of non-chemical inputs in public research institutions is neglected and the budget allocation is almost negligible.
- Local-level implementation of fertiliser control order (FCO) regulation and related monitoring mechanisms, which is mostly controlled by state agriculture departments, lacks credibility and trust among different stakeholders.
- Product samples tested are increasingly failing to meet criteria specified under FCO, a sign either of declining quality of tested samples or the fact that tests were not properly performed earlier.
- Moreover, spurious and fake organic fertilisers and biofertilisers in the market leads to loss of trust among farmers and discourages genuine manufacturers. Dealers are also not very interested in buying and selling them.
- Corruption in securing licences and authorisations for manufacturing, selling and quality testing of these products also acts as a hindrance to their manufacture and sale. Technology transfer from laboratories to the biofertiliser and organic fertiliser manufacturing industry is slow and cumbersome.
- Good quality microorganism strains are not easily available. Some identified strains have yet to be fully commercialised. Availability of strains suitable to different agro-environments is a cause of concern for the industry.
- Targeted, ambitious and well-funded nation-wide programmes must be developed to drive the change towards organic and natural farming. Doing so will require strong political commitment and will at the Centre and state levels.
- Quality of biofertilisers and organic fertilisers must be ensured by developing and institutionalising a robust monitoring and enforcement mechanism in collaboration with the Centre and states. This should include greater sampling frequency and more testing, supported by a wider and enhanced laboratory network. An annual disclosure of collated results in the public domain should follow.
- The process should also include audit and inspection of manufacturing, distribution and selling entities to ensure that fake, substandard, misbranded and mislabelled products are not registered, manufactured and available in the market.
- Legal and fiscal deterrent action should be taken against defaulters ad violators. Similarly, reports related to corruption at the local level should be strictly addressed. Transferring subsidy from chemical fertilisers, provision of incentives to production and promotion of biofertilisers and organic fertilisers should also be considered.
- Farmers should also be incentivised for using non-chemical options in order to save natural resources, prevent ecological damage and help to mitigate effects of climate change.
- Offering payments for ecosystem services provided by non-chemical inputs should be considered and a mechanism should be developed and mainstreamed in this regard.
- Production and availability of biofertilisers and organic fertilisers must be ensured and their use must be promoted through multiple approaches by the Centre and states. These approaches can involve government institutions-, industry- and community-led initiatives.
- Local communities, institutes, rural cooperatives, farmer organisations, self-help groups, gaushalas and small-scale entrepreneurs must be involved in the production and distribution of organic fertilisers like vermicompost, farm yard manure and organic manure. Such initiatives will provide livelihood opportunities, waste recycling and management as well as resource efficiency at the local level.
- Infrastructure support is also needed for such initiatives to increase uptake.
- There must be investment in building capacity and training small-scale manufacturers, entrepreneurs, extension officials and farmers.
- States should develop structured programmatic interventions to use existing unutilised organic sources like crop residues, agro-industry waste and municipal organic waste for city compost.
How to structure
- Give a brief intro about India’s fertilizer needs
- Discuss the major impediments in the growth of India’s biofertilizer and organic fertiliser industries
- Suggest innovative solutions and link it to schemes