Union Fertilizer Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on January 17 said the country will not have any shortage of fertilizer due to the Red Sea crisis as the Government policy has helped stock the crop nutrients for at least one season.

Asked about any adverse impact on imports due to problems in Red sea, the minister said: “There is no shortage of fertilisers in the country.” But he said the delay in voyage time from Middle-East countries has raised the ocean freight cost and it is not only for fertilizers, but also for all goods.

According to official data, India has 7 million tonnes (mt) of urea, 2 mt each of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and single super phosphate (SSP), 1 mt of muriate of potash (MoP) and 4 mt of complex fertilizer in stock. This will be now used in the oncoming kharif season along with whatever is produced until May-June from now on.

MEA making necessary interventions

During kharif 2023 (April-September), actual sales were higher than estimated by the Agriculture Ministry in respect of all fertilizers, except MoP. While 18.4 mt of urea got sold, 6.4 mt of DAP, nearly 0.8 mt of MoP and 6.42 mt of complex fertilizers were sold by companies in last season.

Mandaviya said the Ministry of External Affairs is making necessary interventions and Indian Navy will give protection to Indian cargo vessels.

The minister was speaking to media on his recently-release book “Fertilising the Future: Bharat’s March Towards Fertiliser Self-Sufficiency”. “More books are on the pipeline, next one could be on Covid management,” Mandaviya said.

He said the government has taken several steps since 2014 to boost domestic production of fertilisers and reduce import dependence. He cited the instances of long-term contracts with supplier countries for assured delivery at cheaper rates in the event of sudden jump in global prices, revival of closed fertilizer plants and promotion of innovative products like nano liquid fertilizers to reduce the subsidy while not increasing the rates of urea and DAP for the farmers.

Subsidy bill

The Government’s fertiliser subsidy bill is likely to decline 30-34 per cent to ₹1.7-1.8 lakh crore this fiscal due to fall in global prices and lower imports of urea, he said. Fertiliser subsidy has reached ₹1.36-lakh crore until November against the Budgetary allocation of ₹1.75-lakh crore for the 2023-24 fiscal. The government has already provided ₹13,500 crore additional subsidy in supplementary demand of grants.

“Subsidy is expected to be lower this year because of fall in global prices. We have not increased retail prices to reduce subsidy,” he said.

The minister said four urea plants have already been revived and the fifth one at Talcher, Odisha, would also start production, where over 53 per cent of the project work has been completed. He said the Government has launched the PM-PRANAM scheme to incentivise States that curb use of chemical fertilizers.