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Fertilizer Subsidy

New Delhi: The government’s fertilizer subsidy bill in FY24 is expected to fall 20-24% from the year before to ₹1.7-1.8 trillion because of lower international prices and smaller urea imports, said chemicals and fertilizer minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday.

In FY23, the Centre spent ₹2.25 trillion on fertilizer subsidies, as per revised estimates. The budgeted estimates for the ongoing fiscal year is ₹1.75 trillion. “The subsidy bill is estimated to be lower this year at around ₹1.7-1.8 trillion because of the fall in global prices. We have not increased retail prices to reduce subsidy,” Mandaviya said.

“When the global rates skyrocketed in the last financial year, the government increased subsidy and kept the retail prices of urea, di ammonium phosphate and other fertilizers to protect farmers’ interest,” Mandaviya added.

On the ongoing Red Sea tension, Mandaviya said that India has an adequate stock of fertilizers to meet requirements for the summer.

“The Red Sea crisis will not have an impact on Indian trade, including fertilizer imports as the government is intervening and the Indian Navy is providing security to get vessels in the country safely. Indian fertilizer cargoes are now coming via the Cape of Good Hope that has raised freight costs significantly.”

“There will be no shortage of fertilizers next Kharif season as we reserve stocks for one season in advance to avoid shortage,” Mandaviya said.

Urea imports are at 4-5 million tonnes this fiscal, lower than 7.5 mt imported in the previous year, helped by higher domestic production and increased use of nano-liquid urea.

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“To date, we have 7 million tonnes of urea, 1 mt of muriate of potash, 2 mt of diammonium phosphate, 2 mt of single superphosphate and 4 mt of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) fertilizers,” Mandaviya said.

The geopolitical tension around the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial shipping route connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean, has escalated due to recent attacks by Yemen-based Houthi militants. This has disrupted trade on one of the world’s most important shipping routes, adding 15-20 days to transit times as ships take the safer route around southern Africa.

According to exporters, freight rates have skyrocketed by up to 600% because of the Red Sea crisis which will hurt world trade.

Mandaviya highlighted that the government has taken several steps since 2014 to boost domestic production of fertilisers and reduce import dependence. He said four urea plants have already been revived and the fifth one will also start production soon.

The minister said the Centre is also promoting alternate fertilisers line — nano liquid urea and nano liquid DAP. Besides, it has launched a scheme to incentivise states that curb the use of chemical fertilisers. The country has entered into long-term supply agreements with global suppliers for assured imports of fertilisers and its raw materials at pre-determined prices, he added.

On the efficacy of nano urea and DAP, Mandaviya said that there is no issue with nano fertilisers. Farmers need to be trained to utilise it properly to increase the productivity of crops.

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