Last week, the Centre quietly rolled out a new scheme — Pradhanmantri Bhartiya Janurvarak Pariyojna (PMBJP) — through an office memorandum, which was not even posted on the website. Henceforth, there will be a single brand of all fertiliser products in the country.

What is PMBJP?

The existing fertiliser subsidy is now covered under the PMBJP scheme. Earlier, the nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) was categorised under urea (N), phosphorous (P) and potash (K) and there was no such name. Subsidy will be continued under NBS policy, as there is no change in it. There will be only one brand, Bharat, which, the government claims, will generate trust among the farmers.

When is it being rolled out?

The government has decided to roll it out from October 2 (Gandhi Jayanti), as its focus on making the country atmanirbhar (self-sufficient) in fertiliser goes with the ethos of what the Father of the Nation had espoused. The rabi season’s sowing starts from October and buying of fertilisers also starts from the first week.

How does it work?

Under PMBJP, all fertilisers — urea, DAP, MOP and Complex (combination of N.P,K) — will be sold under a single “Bharat” brand. For instance, IFFCO’s urea will be called “Bharat Urea”, so also IPL’s MOP will become “Bharat MOP”. The government has shared the design of the bag, where two-thirds of the space will be used for the brand and logo, while companies can print their name and details in the balance one-third area.

The logo will also mention Pradhanmantri Bhartiya Janurvarak Pariyojna in Hindi. Companies have been advised not to procure bags having old designs from September 15, and all old bags need to be phased out by December 31.

What is the rationale behind this move?

The government thinks that farmers are not aware of the subsidy spent on fertilisers by the Centre, to make those available at cheaper rates. Farmers will now concentrate on fertilisers, not on company-based brand, officials said.

Urea subsidy, which is borne by the Centre as it decides the selling price at which farmers should get irrespective of cost of production, is as high as 89 per cent while farmers pay only 11 per cent of its actual costs when they buy a bag of 45 kg at ₹242.

Similarly, in the case of DAP, the government claims to bear a subsidy of ₹2,500 per 50-kg bag (65 per cent of cost) and farmers pay ₹1,350/bag (35 per cent). For MOP, the government subsidy is ₹759/50-kg bag (30 per cent) and farmers buy at ₹1,750/bag (70 per cent).

How has been the reaction to this decision by the Government?

Companies have not objected to it so far, even though they had expressed their reservations during consultation. As long as their products are sold in the market, they are comfortable with whatever the government directs them to do. Since the country is dependent on imports, companies have the impression that there will not be any problem in selling their products. However, most of the companies are not ready to spend on advertisements since they think the products can be sold without competition, similar to the rice, wheat sold through ration shops.