The Chemicals & Fertilizers Ministry’s directive to fertiliser marketing companies for mandatory off-take of fertilizers organic manure (FOM) along with subsidised products has taken a hit in Kerala with the State Agriculture Department coming out against tagging of fertilisers.

The decision comes in the wake of complaints received from fertiliser dealers and licensed fertiliser mixture manufacturers. The Additional Director of Agriculture in the June 15 letter cited that fertiliser suppliers are tagging fertilisers along with nano urea and organic fertilisers while supplying to wholesalers and retailers.

“This will be viewed seriously as the Centre has already instructed the suppliers that tagging of fertilisers will not be allowed,” the letter said.

Farmers unaware of benefits

It is noticed that nano urea and organic manures are compulsorily tagged with urea and potash. As the farmers are not aware of the benefits and method of application of nano urea, the letter said that firms selling this product should conduct awareness programmes including field demonstrations.

Since lots of complaints were received, the Directorate of Agriculture issued guidelines for strict compliance. It said that the tagging of fertilisers should not be done at the wholesaler and retailer level, and retailers should be instructed not to tag fertilisers while selling to farmers.

The Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers in its May 27 letter to all PSU fertiliser manufacturing companies had requested to arrange for the offtake of FOM and stressed the need to promote all other organic and bio-fertilisers as part of integrated nutrient management (INM). The decision was taken as part of the task force meetings on Gobardhan held in February this year.

It was decided that all fertiliser manufacturing companies should arrange for mandatory offtake of FOM and other organic and bio-fertilisers with chemical fertilisers as a “basket approach” to ensure balanced and INM for the crops.

However, the directive of the Ministry has put fertiliser dealers and mixture manufacturers in Kerala in a mess, especially with the demand to purchase nano urea along with potash and urea. They alleged that manufacturing companies are not selling urea without nano urea, which is priced at ₹240 for a half litre and the product has not made any major response among the farming community in the State.

Kerala’s requirements

Kerala requires around 4 lakh tonnes of fertiliser including urea (1.5-2 lakh) tonnes of urea, complex fertiliser, Muriate of potash (MOP), di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) per year.

Official sources maintain that the demand to procure nano urea is part of the Central government’s policy to reduce the mis-utilisation of subsidised urea solid form for soil protection. There are reports of diversion of subsidised urea for industrial purposes and the government wanted to control it for the benefit of the farming community.