Amrik Singh, a farmer as well as president of his village cooperative society in charge of selling fertilisers in Punjab’s Ludhiana district, is in dilemma about how to force-sell nano-DAP when he himself tried nano-Urea last year and got a lower wheat yield. Singh is not alone; many farmers in Haryana, Rajasthan, and western Uttar Pradesh also complain about the forced selling of nano-urea, claiming retailers are refusing to sell them conventional bags if nano-urea is not purchased.

The fertiliser ministry had issued an order last November without mentioning nano-urea and termed tagging of any “other product” with conventional urea bag as “illegal”. It had requested States to take action. However, the practice still continues, though varies from place to place. If one retailer is asking farmers to compulsorily buy one 500 ml bottle of nano-urea with each bag of granular urea, at other places the condition is one nano-urea for five bags of conventional urea.

“Recently 400 bags of DAP was received by our society in which IFFCO sent 20 bottles of nano-DAP. If we ask them to take it back, they threaten not to supply it. We had complained to local authorities only after which they did not send nano-urea to our society in recent kharif season,” Singh said.

Varied reactions among farmers

“I tried nano-urea last year and found that it was not effective. How do I force others to buy in such a situation,” Singh said, adding that his wheat yield last year dropped to 15 quintals in one acre from 22 quintals. He had sprayed two bottles of nano-urea in two rounds in one acre and reduced two bags of urea.

Gopilal Jat of Tonk district in Rajasthan had a similar experience. “In 2021, I had sprayed nano-urea in 1.7 acres in two rounds for wheat crop after consulting the local agriculture department staff. I was sold four bottles as they said one bottle will work the same as one bag. But I harvested only 7.5 quintals whereas last year from the same land I got 18 quintals after using conventional urea and DAP,” Jat said.

Earlier this month, an audio clip of a heated exchange between a farmer leader of Kisan Mahapanchayat and Rajasthan’s agriculture department official went viral in which the official was heard asking the leader to explain his bonafide as he has not received any complaint from any farmer on forced selling of nano-urea. The farmer leader was raising the complaint of one farmer Hansraj Jat of Devpura village of Peeplu in Tonk district about compulsory tagging of nano-urea with conventional urea bag.

Jitendra Hooda and Devender Singh, both from Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh also said that they used nano-urea by mixing it with insecticides and sprayed on sugarcane and found it not beneficial while adding to costs. In Shamli, the local retailer is not forcing farmers to buy nano-urea if one buys upto five bags of conventional urea. As a result, some farmers are buying in small lots, Hooda said. “If nano-urea is really beneficial, why they are tagging it and forcing us to buy,” asks Hooda.

However, Yudhisthir Sharma, a farmer in Palwal district of Haryana, expressed satisfaction over the benefits of nano-urea, saying it has not reduced his basmati yield. “There is no drop in the yield as I used nano-urea as well as some bag of urea. The benefit is that it has to be sprayed after plants reach a certain height so that its harmful chemicals do not reach the soil,” Sharma said.

Retaliers, mostly cooperative societies, said that IFFCO is forcing them to lift one bottle of nano-urea with every ten bags of granular urea and one bottle of nano-DAP with every 20 bags of DAP. IFFCO did not reply to questions sent through an email. The union agriculture ministry suggested contacting the Department of Fertilizers, stating that queries regarding farmers’ complaint of lower yield were not pertained to it.

The cost of nano-urea is ₹225 and that of nano-DAP is ₹600, for each 500 ml bottle. On the other hand, one 50 kg bag of urea sold at ₹266.50 and that of DAP is ₹1,350.