Just like farming being inevitable for sustenance of hungry (human) beings, after the green revolution, urea has become inevitable for the very sustenance of our hungry soils. Such inevitable ‘urea’, flaunting in the ‘imports’ list is never a silver lining. With this background the ‘New Urea Policy 2015’ comes in prospecting to do away with the odds. Let’s dig in to see what this pile pours out !
What can the ‘New Urea Policy 2015’ (NUP 2015) really do?
- At the first instance, to reduce the import dependency of urea and in further paces to attain import independence of urea, the NUP 2015 proposes to strengthen domestic urea production, by reviving and regulating the ailing fertilizer manufacturing units in the country.
- To reduce the ‘carbon footprints’ of urea production and to make the process more environment friendly, the NUP 2015 propounds ‘target energy norms’ for the manufacturing units. By this, any manufacturing unit would gain incentives only according to its ‘energy efficiency’ which means the profit margin of a unit directly depends on its environment friendliness.
- The NUP 2015 propones to supply urea to farmers at a uniform reduced rate, as the difference between the selling price and the cost of production would be carried by the government.
- The NUP 2015 also offers to cut down government’s spending on subsidy, as the subsidy spending towards the selling price of ‘domestic urea’ would be comparatively much lesser than the subsidy spending towards the selling price of ‘imported urea’.
- At the outset, as urea is available at cheap price, there are myriad possibilities for it to be hoarded and used as an input (raw material) in other industries for non – agricultural commercial uses. To prevent the illegitimate diversion of urea for non – agricultural purposes, the NUP 2015 has made it mandatory for all agri – based urea manufacturers to produce neem coated urea (NCU), such that the subsidized urea doesn’t find a place in any of the industries but agriculture. This also has an added advantage of improving the soil fertility in the long run, as NCU is a slow release fertilizer.
What did the ‘New Urea Policy 2015’ really miss?
In a country where the practise of indiscriminate use of fertilizers sounds more like a custom, the NUP 2015 has only aggravated the status quo. As urea is available at very cheaper rates in comparison with phosphorus and potassic fertilizers, the farmers tend to use it more and even substitute all other nutrient fertilizers with urea. When contrasted with the ideal Nitrogen: Phosphorus: Potassium (NPK) Ratio of 4:2:1, the actual NPK ratio of Indian soils is highly lopsided. There are instances where even the micronutrient deficiencies are treated with ‘urea’ and ‘urea alone’! This would not only deteriorate the nation’s soil health, but also would contribute to the malnutrition of the population which feeds on the soil’s produce.
This article was published originally in Policy check column of ‘The Agraria’ e-magazine. Subscribe it here.