After his call for chemical-free farming, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the occasion of his Independence Day address to reassure the country that both natural farming and use of chemical fertiliser will continue, which may end apprehensions about India shifting to organic method of cultivation.

Modi said: “Today, natural farming is also a way of becoming self-reliant. Today, the factories of nano fertiliser have brought a new hope in the country. But natural farming and chemical-free farming can give a boost to self-reliance.”

Drone policy

He said that India has come up with the most progressive policy regarding drones in the world. The Prime Minister further said new employment opportunities in the form of green jobs are opening up very fast in the country.

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Reacting to Modi’s mention of nano fertiliser, IFFCO’s managing director and CEO US Awasthi said: “It is a matter of pride for the country. The biggest example of self-reliant India.” Fertiliser Minister Mansukh Manadviya tweeted: “Today, nano fertiliser factories have brought new hope in the country. But natural farming can also give strength to self-reliant India.”

Nano urea is an innovative nano fertiliser developed indigenously by IFFCO and released for commercial use last year. It is produced by an energy efficient environment friendly production process with less carbon footprints. Its application to crops as foliar fertilisation enhances crop productivity to the tune of 8 per cent with commensurate benefits in terms of better soil, air and water, and farmers profitability, officials said.

The government estimates that about 6 crore bottles of nano urea will be produced in FY23 which will be equivalent to 27 lakh tonnes of conventional urea after 1.23 crore bottles have been sold this year, as of August 10. As many as 2.15 crore bottles were sold during FY22 since its launch in August. India imports 90-100 lt of urea annually and spends thousands of crores on subsidy as it is the cheapest crop nutrient.

Exhorting farmers to adopt natural farming to protect the soil from harmful impact of chemicals, Modi last month had said crops produced from this chemical-free process would fetch higher rates in export market amid demand for such healthy products. Modi had expressed confidence that the Jan Andolan (People’s movement) on natural farming would be a huge success in the coming days.

Industry’s take

Industry officials of chemical fertiliser and pesticides are of the views that natural farming concept is good, but it cannot become an alternative to current practices as food security will be under threat. Whereas proponents of natural farming claims that there will not be any drop in yield by practising the traditional chemical-free practice, by utilising bio-fertiliser and bio-pesticides made of cow dung and cow urine among other ingredients.

Modi also mentioned about millets and related the coarse cereals with India’s heritage. United Nations has already declared 2023 as International Year of Millets. The government has been promoting millet consumption to increase its demand as the coarse grain is said to be least impacted from climate change and secondly water consumption by these crops – jowar, bajra, ragi is also very less compared to paddy.