The Economic Survey 2021-22 has said that there is a need to explore options and promote use of alternative fertilisers such as nano urea along with organic fertilisers that protect the soil and are more productive and contribute to higher nutrient use efficiency.
Further, the Survey said that focus should be on use of new technology including drones and artificial intelligence-based decision support systems, reduction in use of chemical fertilizers and use of low-cost organic inputs and supporting start-ups for innovations.
The government is making available fertilisers such as urea and 24 grades of phosphatic and potassic (P&K) fertilizers to farmers at subsidized prices through fertilizer manufacturers/importers. While urea is being provided to the farmers at a statutorily notified maximum retail price (MRP), for P&K fertilisers the government is implementing a nutrient-based subsidy scheme.
The Survey said that fertiliser subsidy till end of December, 2021 stood at ₹85,300 crore. Till December-end the production of urea was 187.4 lakh tonne, DAP was 30.7 lakh tonnes and complex fertilisers 68 lakh tonnes. Imports during the same period stood at 59.6 lakh tonnes of urea, 40.1 lakh tonnes of DAP and 17.4 lakh tonnes of complex fertilisers.
In order to tackle the import dependency and make the subsidy regime more efficient and transparent, the government has taken several steps including notifying the New Urea Policy-2015 with the objective of maximizing indigenous production, promoting energy efficiency in production, and rationalizing subsidy burden. The government has made it mandatory for all the domestic producers of urea to produce only neem-coated urea.
Also, the government has brought Potash Derived from Molasses (PDM) under Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) scheme for the first time since its inception in 2010 to give a push to its manufacturing by sugar mills as a by-product and reduce its import dependence, the Survey said. Latest technologies such as coal gasification; implementation of Direct Benefit Transfer for providing benefits to farmers through point of sale machines are being promoted.
Further, the Survey said that the main component for promotion of natural farming is elimination of chemical fertilisers and pesticides usage and promotion of good agronomic practices. Natural farming also aims to sustain agriculture production with eco-friendly processes in tune with nature to produce agricultural produce free of chemicals. Soil fertility and soil organic matter arerestored by natural farming practices. Natural farming systems require less water and are climate-friendly, the Survey said.
The natural farming in India is being promoted through a dedicated scheme of Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati (BPKP) programme . The scheme promotes on-farm biomass recycling with major stress on biomass mulching, use of on-farm cow dung-urine formulations, periodic soil aeration and exclusion of all synthetic chemical inputs, it said.