Oct. 28, 2016
To promote fertiliser research and improve soil fertility, India has set up Indian Council for Fertilizer and Nutrient Research (ICFNR). The research organisation to operate on the lines of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will work under the department of fertilizers.
“ICFNR will have a governing council and an executive council. The governing council will be chaired by the minister of chemical and fertilizers and will include secretaries from the departments of fertilisers and agriculture. Also, director general and secretary, ICAR, and chairman and managing directors of all fertiliser PSUs (public sector units) will be part of the council,” according to an official memorandum posted on the website of ministry of chemical and fertilisers.
The executive committee will be headed by the fertiliser secretary and will include chiefs of Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers Ltd, National Fertiliser Ltd, Madras Fertilisers Ltd, and Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd, apart from director of Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi as members.
Fertiliser minister Ananth Kumar, who will head the governing council, had in August said the government was planning to set up ICFNR to ensure farmers get good quality fertilisers at affordable rates.
The governing council will meet at least once in six months and executive committee will meet in three months, the memorandum noted, adding that broad terms of reference for the new body will be to undertake research in the area of fertiliser manufacturing technology, use of raw material and innovation in fertiliser products through partnership and collaboration with various research institutions, industry and other stakeholders.
The National Democratic Alliance government is exploring all options to provide adequate supply of fertilisers to farmers and boost the rural economy. The country is witnessing a rural distress following two successive years of drought, though monsoon this year has been normal.
The new research body for fertilisers will play a pivotal role in identifying and formulating long-range technology plans, and will work out suitable mechanism for adoption of indigenous processes. Also, it will engage in promoting eco-friendly micro nutrients and pesticide-coated slow release fertilisers. It will also ensure reduction of carbon footprint of fertiliser sector and energy efficient operations.
According to the memorandum, ICFNR will also undertake and promote research in bio-fertilisers and its derivatives with suitable coating so as to protect and increase soil fertility.
In order to ensure proper and timely supplies of the fertiliser, the government is also working on revival of three urea plants at Gorakhpur, Barauni and Sindri.
Experts believe the setting up of research body will help both farmers and the industry.
“At a point when we are talking of balanced fertilisation and better soil health, ICFNR will have a focused attention on creating new grade of soil nutrients, thus improving farm productivity,” said R.G. Rajan, former chairman and managing director of Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd.
The government is actively running programmes to check excessive usage of fertilisers and has also introduced the soil health card scheme which makes farmers aware about soil health and type of fertiliser to be used.