Nov. 21, 2016
The increased usage of fertilisers in the past few decades has played a significant role in increasing India’s agricultural productivity. The food grain production has gone up from 42 million tonne (MT) in 1950-51 to 253 MT in 2015-16.
However, over the years, the high usage of straight, or single-nutrient, fertilisers (urea, diammonium phosphate and muriate of potash) compared with complex fertilisers which are considered to be agronomically better including low or non-usage of secondary and micro-nutrients has contributed towards slowdown in growth of productivity of late.
“The declining fertiliser use efficiency is also one of the factors for low productivity. The pricing of subsidised fertilisers is also probably responsible for higher usage of straight fertilisers and skewed usage of nutrients,” according to a report of the working group on the fertiliser industry for the 12th Plan period.
Over the years, urea (nitrogen-based) is the only fertiliser whose requirement is largely met through indigenous resources. But the country lacks potassic (K) resources and is entirely dependent on imports to meet the requirement of potash.
India is also deficient in phosphatic (P) resources with around 90% requirement of the country being met through direct import of finished phosphatic fertilisers or phosphatic raw materials or intermediates for indigenous production of phosphatic fertilisers.
It in June 1947 when Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT) commissioned the nation’s first complex fertiliser unit in Kerala and started producing ammonium phosphate sulphate (APS). Later on, Gujarat State Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd (GSFC) in 1967 commissioned its APS plant, currently with a capacity of 256,000 tonne per annum. Also, it has designed its diammonium phosphate (DAP) plant in such a way that APS can also be produced.
According to a paper published by the Fertilizer Association of India (FAI) in 2002, the fertility status of soils all across the country was found to be skewed, with very high or low content of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous.
During 1960s, Coromandel International Ltd started manufacturing DAP and complex fertilisers from its Visakhapatnam unit, while in 1970s firms including Zuari Agro Chemicals Ltd, the country’s largest fertiliser cooperative Iffco, Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd, FACT, Madras Fertilizers Ltd and Greenstar Fertilizers Ltd started making complex fertilisers, along with DAP.
Coromandel International Ltd set up its another unit for complex fertilisers at Kakinada in 1987, which was followed by other companies such as Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Limited (GNVFC), Paradeep Phosphates Ltd, among others.
According to information available with FAI, a lobby group, there are about 19 DAP and complex fertilisers in the country. During 2014-15, the country produced 3.44 MT of DAP and 7.83 MT of complex fertilisers.