|AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE||Monday, October 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
Consumption of fertilisers unevenly distributed
Indian agriculture in crisis
Consumption of fertilisers unevenly distributed
India is one of the largest producers and consumers of chemical fertilisers in the world, though the consumption of chemical fertilisers is unevenly distributed, being much higher in regions with assured irrigation.
Although the average per hectare consumption of fertiliser nutrients has increased from less than 1 kg in 1951-52 to about 95.6 kg in 1999-2000, even this level of fertiliser use is low with reference to the objective of accelerating the growth in the agriculture sector as well as the consumption level prevailing in other countries, including some of the developing countries in Asia. Moreover, the consumption of chemical fertilisers in the country is unevenly distributed, being much higher in regions with assured irrigation.
In view of the limited scope for increasing the land area under cultivation, further growth in agricultural production can be achieved only through better water management, expansion of the area under irrigation, improved farming practices, research and development in the use of scientific inputs and seeds and more extensive and balanced use of fertilisers.
At present, there are 65 large fertiliser units in the country manufacturing a wide range of nitrogenous and phosphatic/complex fertilisers.
Besides, there are about 79 small and medium-scale units producing single super phosphate. The total installed capacity of fertiliser production, which was 110.71 lakh tonnes of nitrogen and 36.48 lakh tonnes of phosphate as on March 31, 2001, arose to 116.88 lakh tonnes of nitrogen and 46.35 lakh tonnes of phosphate as on December 1,2000. This has made India the third largest producer of fertilisers in the world.
The production of nitrogenous fertilisers in 1999-2001 was 108.90 lakh tonnes of nitrogen and that of phosphatic fertilisers, 33.99 lakh tonnes of phosphate. The actual production in 2000-2001 (up to December, 2000) was 83.87 lakh tonnes of nitrogen and 29.33 lakh tonnes of phosphate. Taking ‘N’ and ‘P’ together, there was an overall growth of 4.8 per cent over the production during the corresponding period of last year.
As of now, the country is self-sufficient to the extent of about 94 per cent in the case of nitrogen. Prior to 1980, nitrogenous fertiliser plants were based mainly on naphtha as feedstock. A number of fuel oil based ammonia-urea plants were also set up during 1978 to 1982. In 1980, two coal-based plants were set up for the first time at Talcher (Orissa) and Ramagundam (Andhra Pradesh). With associated and free gas becoming available from offshore Bombay High and South Bassein basins, number of gas based ammonia-urea plants have been set up since 1985. In view of limited availability of gas, number of expansion projects, according to the report, have been taken up in the past few years with naphtha as feedstock with the flexibility for switching over to gas as and when it becomes available. Feasibility of a delivery system of liquified natural gas (LNG) to meet the demand of fertiliser units and projects is also being explored.
In the case of phosphates, the paucity of domestic raw material constraints the attainment of any degree of self-sufficiency. Recognising this, a deliberate policy-mix has been adopted which involves the modulation of three options — domestic production based on indigenous/imported rock phosphate and imported sulphur, indigenous/imported rock phosphate and imported sulphur, domestic production based on imported intermediates, viz. ammonia and phosphoric acid, and import of finished fertiliser, viz di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and, very rarely, mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) and nitrogen-phosphate-potash (NPK) complexes. Roughly 66 per cent of the requirement of phosphatic fertilisers is met through the first two options. Since indigenous rock phosphate supplies meet only 5 to 10 per cent of the total requirement of P205, phosphatic fertilisers produced in the country are essentially based on imported raw materials and intermediates.
There are no known commercially exploitable reserves of potash in the country and per force the entire requirement of potassium fertilisers for direct application as well as for production of complex fertilisers is met through imports.
In order to bridge the gap between demand and domestic availability, the report says, the country may have to continue to depend on imports of urea, phosphatic and potassic fertilisers, due to inadequate availability of indigenous raw material.
Indian agriculture in crisis
The first generation of economic reforms in India were concentrated only to the industrial economy and reforms in the agricultural sector were neglected. Consequently, the agriculture faired poorly through the 90s — growing at 3.3 per cent from 1992-93 to 2000-2001, while the industry’s average growth remained at 6.5 per cent.
Impact of globalisation apart, the fall in agricultural production has raised serious doubts as to the sector’s ability to reach the target of 230 million tonnes which will be required to feed the population of over one billion in this millennium. Deceleration in foodgrains growth is sure to multiply the number of empty stomach in the coming years. The situation, therefore, is turning grim. The growth rate of crop production is losing track of population growth.
"As this stage is the Indian agriculture does not become efficient it will be taken over by the foreign agriculture", cautions father of the Green Revolution M.S. Swaminathan. "For a nation like Indian, agriculture is a livelihood security. One requires synergy between the public policies and the technology. This unfortunately has become negligible," he laments. At present, agriculture in India is the largest private sector. It contributes 26 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) as against the industry’s 22 per cent. Still investment in agriculture continues to decline year after year.
The sector produces 51 major crops, provides raw material to the country’s agro-based industries and fetches nearly one-sixth of the total export earnings of the country. But when the food processing industry is picking up, the Indian markets are loaded with foreign processed food products. The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) regime, therefore, has started attacking on our basic occupation.
Till recently, economists had almost exclusively directed their interest in analysing the impact of globalisation on the country’s industrial sector. But now the agricultural sector has become their main concern.
The gains to India from the trade liberalisation process in agriculture are practically zero, hopes of a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system have been belied, and competitiveness of export from developing countries has been eroded. The agreement on agriculture had commitments on market access, domestic support and export subsidies, the aim being to correct distortions. In post-Uruguay Round, India had to cut its agricultural subsidies by 30 per cent and trade restrictions on 714 times out of which 482 were related to agriculture and peasantry were withdrawn.
The developed countries, however, have manipulated subsidy reduction commitments to increase support to their own farmers. In the USA, subsidy to a mere 90,000 farmers is said to have increased by 700 times since 1996. In developed nations, well before the Uruguay Round, the farmers’ subsidies had been doubled — from $ 88 billion to $ 177 billion. Today, in European countries domestic support and export subsidies to farmers amount to 56 per cent of the cost of production, while in the USA they account for 28.7 per cent. But these subsidies do not fall in the WTO’s restrictions. Such kind of export subsidies, however, are not provided in India. And in such a situation India cannot compete in the world agricultural trade.
According to one estimate, the food processing industry India is one of the largest, both in terms of production and consumption and in value terms it is estimated at around $ 70 billion. However, it is wasting as much as $ 15 billion worth of food items every year.
Food processing holds the key to prevent wastage of food items. Massive investments are called for to save food through processing. The present level of processing is limited to 2 per cent as against 60 to 80 per cent from to 10 per cent in 10 years, this will need an investment of Rs 1.4 lakh crore. It seems that we are not prepared for the requisite investment to bring India at par with the developed countries in food processing industry.
Since the peasants are basically the primary producers and do not have the wherewithal to process, the benefits of value added to the product only accrues to the manufacturers.
For example, the Indian farmer is forced for distress sale, now just throwing his wheat at any price between Rs 450 and Rs 600 per quintal. But Britania Biscuits Factory is selling its biscuits at Rs 11,000 to Rs 15,000 per quintal.
This is one of the basic dichotomy in our agricultural marketing. Thus, India has to resist the penetration of multinationals in its agricultural marketing. It has to tread carefully on the WTO farm negotiations. We have time till 2005 to strengthen and insulate our agriculture against the WTO onslaught.
FARM OPERATIONS FOR OCTOBER
Annuals: The seedlings (10 cm) of winter season annuals should be transplanted in this month at 4 to 6 leaf stage in the flower beds or pots. The seeds of winter season annuals can also be sown in the nursery beds for raising seedlings. The pot flowering plants like calendula, gazania, pansy, alyssum, petunia, etc. can be planted in the pots to allow sufficient time for their development.
Manuring of weak plants and staking of heavy branches using bamboo sticks is required. If required, disbudding of side branches should be done. The root suckers should be removed.
Pruning of roses is done in this month for removing the diseased/dead and criss-cross branches. The cut ends should be treated with Blitox or Bordeaux paste immediately after pruning or spray the plants with Bavistin @ 0.2 per cent.
— Hoeing of rose beds, removal of suckers and application of FYM, near the base of the plants after exposing roots is done in this month. Apply Thimet 10G @ 1table spoon per plant to check the attack of scales and other soil born insects. Irrigate the plants after application of FYM later on.
— The new plants of roses can also be planted in this month.
The bulbs of narcissus (Nargis), gladiolus, dahlia, etc. can be planted at 7 to 10 days’ interval in this month. Stop watering summer bulbous plants like caladium, football Lilly, etc. When they shed leaves and uproot the bulbs 7 to 10 days after stopping water. Store the bulbs in cool place after treating with Bavistin @ 0.2 per cent for 20 minutes.
The grown up shrubbery plants like acalypha should be pinched in this month to encourage new growth because the cold adversely affects old leaves much more than new ones.
— The newly planted young fruit plants being tender, need lot of care and attention for their survival and growth. They should be watered at frequent intervals. The young plants of mango, litchi, etc. need stalking so as to make them grow upright and straight. Remove all the sprouts on root stock which have grown below the bud-union. The termite attack, if noted, should be checked by applying chlorpyriphos 20 EC @ 5 ml or 30 ml Lindane per plant followed by irrigation.
— This would be the most appropriate time for preparation of land and sowing of rabi intercrops like wheat, peas. Keep separate irrigation system for wheat and citrus plants.
— The orchard soil should be cultivated for the control of perennial weeds like baru, kahi, mother, parthenium etc.
— Apply first half dose of N (0.5 kg urea/plant) to the loquat plants.
— Transplanting of papaya seedlings (15-20 cm tall) should be completed.
— To control the insect-pests of citrus like white and black fly, spray 570 ml of Thiodan 35 EC (endosulfan) in 500 litres of water.
— To control citrus leaf folder, spray 625 ml of Nuvacron 36 SLC or 1250 ml Dursban 20 Ec or 1000 ml Ekalux 25 EC in 500 litres of water. Remove webbing to check the bark eating caterpillar and inject kerosene into the holes. Treat all the alternate host plants in the vicinity.
— To control citrus canker, spray the crop with 50 mg of Streptocycline plus 25 g of copper sulphate plus 500 litres of water during this month and repeat during December and February.
— Spray ber trees with 0.25 per cent wettable sulphur (250 g in 100 litres of water) or 0.05 per cent Karathane 40 EC (50-80 ml in 100 litres of water). The spraying should be made in the end of October to control powdery mildew of ber.
— To each full grown pear tree, apply 10 g Bavistin 50 per cent plus g Vitavax 10 litres of water along the trunk and around the drip area after the monsoon (October) immediately after the light irrigation to the tree.
— Remove malformated panicles of mango along with about 15 cm of healthy shoots and spray the whole tree with NAA at the rate of 200 pm.
— Progressive Farming, PAU