Imports of fertilisers from Russia surged more than eight times to $ 1.6 billion during the first half of the current fiscal year from about $185 million in the year-ago period as global prices increased, according to industry sources.

However, with the softening of prices in recent days, the next half of the year may witness some declines even if volume remains the same, experts said.

Fertiliser imports from Russia during April–September 2022–23 were 2.15 million tonnes (mt), compared with 0.46 mt a year ago, industry sources said. The total import of fertilisers from all countries increased by 11.6 per cent to 8.73 mt from 7.82 mt in this period. There was a 122 per cent increase in complex fertiliser (NPKS) at 1.53 mt, while that of diammonium phosphate (DAP) surged 43 per cent to 3.33 mt. However, urea imports dipped 25 per cent to 2.99 mt, official data show.

While the average import price of urea in October was $665 per tonne (f.o.b), the rate declined to $578 per tonne in the last tender, a senior official in the Fertiliser Ministry said. The average imported prices of DAP has also softened to $722 per tonne in October from $758 per tonne in September as the world market cooled after Indian companies entered into direct contracts with global companies in supplier countries, he said.

Achieving self-sufficiency

He also said the government is hopeful of achieving self-sufficiency in urea as the installed capacity has already increased to 28.3 mt, whereas the annual demand is 35 mt. “With the production of 44 crore bottles of nano-urea by 2025, which is equivalent to 20 mt of normal urea, there would be surplus, which could be then considered for export,” he said.

There have been reports of fertiliser shortages from many places, even as the government maintained that the availability is more than the requirement at the macro level. According to the fertiliser ministry, the pro rata requirement of urea up to November 16 was 57.40 lakh tonnes (lt). As against this, the government ensured the availability of 92.54 lt. The sales of urea have been reported at 38.43 lt, it said. In the case of DAP, the Ministry said the pro rata requirement up to November 16 was 26.98 lt against which 36.90 lt were made available.

However, official data for October showed that against the monthly demand of 35.65 lt of urea, the availability was 30.77 lt, and that of DAP, it was 18.39 lt against supplies of 15.06 lt.