To limit the use of chemical fertilizers, the government winks at PM PRANAM

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The Union government intends to launch a program – named PM PRANAM – to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers by incentivizing states, The Indian Express has learned.

The proposed scheme, short for PM Promotion of Alternate Nutrients for Agriculture Management Yojana, also aims to reduce the subsidy burden on chemical fertilizers, which is expected to reach Rs 2.25 lakh crore in 2022-23, 39% more than the last year’s figure. of Rs 1.62 lakh crore.

It is gaining importance given the sharp increase in overall fertilizer requirements in the country over the past five years.

It is learned that senior officials from the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, which floated the idea of ​​PM-PRANAM, shared details of the proposed program with state government officials during the Conference. on agriculture for the Rabi campaign which was held on 7 September. The ministry also asked for their suggestions on the features of the proposed plan, we learn.

Sources said the ministry has launched inter-ministerial discussions on the proposed scheme and its draft will be finalized after incorporating views from relevant departments.

A source hinted that the program will not have a separate budget and will be funded from “existing fertilizer subsidy savings” under programs run by the Fertilizer Department.

According to some sources, 50% of the subsidy savings will be passed on as a subsidy to the state which saves the money.

Sources also indicated that 70% of the grant awarded under the program can be used for the creation of assets related to the technological adoption of alternative fertilizers and alternative fertilizer production units at the village level. , blocks and districts. The remaining 30% can be used to reward and incentivize farmers, panchayats, farmer organizations and self-help groups that participate in reducing fertilizer use and raising awareness.

Giving an example of calculating reductions in chemical fertilizer use, a source said that a state’s increase or decrease in urea in one year will be compared to its average urea consumption over the three last years. For this purpose, data available on a dashboard of the Department of Fertilizers, iFMS (Integrated Fertilizers Management System), will be used, the source said.

Official records show that the actual fertilizer subsidy expenditure was 1.27 lakh crore in 2020-21. In the Union Budget 2021-2022, the government budgeted an amount of Rs 79,530 crore, which rose to Rs 1.40 lakh crore in the Revised Estimates (RE). However, the final figure for the fertilizer subsidy touched Rs 1.62 lakh crore in 2021-22.

In the current financial year (2022-23), the government has allocated Rs 1.05 lakh crore. The Fertilizer Minister said the fertilizer subsidy figure could cross Rs 2.25 lakh crore during this year.

According to a written response given to Lok Sabha by Bhagwanth Khuba, the Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers, on August 5, the total requirement for four fertilizers – urea, DAP (diammonium phosphate), MOP ( potash muriate), NPKS (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) – in the country grew by 21% to 640.27 lakh metric tons (LMT) in 2021-22 from 528.86 lakh metric tons in 2017-18.

The maximum increase — 25.44% — was recorded in the DAP requirement. It fell from 98.77 LMT in 2017-18 to 123.9 LMT in 2021-22. Urea, the most widely used chemical fertilizer in the country, has seen a 19.64% increase – from 298 LMT in 2017-18 to 356.53 in 2021-22 – over the past five years.

This move is in line with the government’s emphasis on promoting balanced use of fertilizers or alternative fertilizers in recent years.

To address leakage in fertilizer subsidies, the Center had introduced a direct benefit transfer scheme in fertilizers as of October 2016. Under this scheme, a 100% subsidy on various grades of fertilizer is paid to fertilizer companies based on actual sales made by retailers to beneficiaries. Also, the government had incorporated new nutrients like nano-urea and “bio-stimulants” into the Fertilizer Control Order-1985 (FCO). In addition to this, initiatives such as soil health map and neem-coated urea have also been taken.

On December 21, the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya, had informed Lok Sabha that the government is “encouraging the balanced use of fertilizers” in conjunction with bio-fertilizers and organic fertilizers.

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