India’s IFFCO ‘nano’ fertilizer could reduce urea demand by 50% - exec

Author: Deepika Thapliyal

2019/12/03

NEW DELHI (ICIS)--India's IFFCO is looking to produce a new ‘nano’ technology based on nitrogen fertilizer, according to the company's managing director.

Uday Shankar Awasthi said to ICIS the new product would be produced at the firm's Kalol plant in Ahmedabad by March 2021.

The company plans to produce 25m bottles/year, the executive said. Each bottle of 500 millilitres will be able to replace a 45-kg bags of urea, Awasthi added.

If successful, the product has the potential to reduce the use of urea fertilizer in India by 50%, as well as raise crop output.

India’s current urea consumption is at around 30m tonnes, with the fertilizer often being overused by farmers as it is the least expensive.

Urea market participants said that if IFFCO is able to pull off the plan it would be "trail blazing" for the global urea market.

ONE BOTTLE AND ONE BAG
“Our aim is to reduce the use of urea [in India] by 50%. Right now, you need 100kg of urea per acre of land. In this case, farmers could use one bottle of the nano fertilizer and one bag of urea for each acre,” said Awasthi.

The company is testing the product in more than 15,000 locations around India.

“The nano fertilizer is being tested in all kinds of soil and climate, from Adaman to Ladakh and Arunachal to Kutch. We are sure it will be successful. It is already showing 23% higher growth in crop mass in the first 15 days [when compared with with urea],” said Awasthi.

Awasthi said IFFCO does not plan to ask the government for subsidies on sale of the nano fertilizer, which would reduce the government’s subsidy burden by almost half if the product is successful, he said.

Urea is heavily subsidised in India.

“This will also reduce fossil fuel emissions, any water contamination and increase soil health. The farmer also does not need to carry a heavy load and it will also reduce subsidy payments by half, which is the biggest problem of the country,” said Awasthi.

Subsidy payments are always delayed by the government. The Fertilizer Association of India (FAI) estimates subsidy arrears close to Rs600bn ($8.4bn) by April 2020, compared with Rs337bn at present.

Awasthi said the the nano fertilizer will be priced 10% lower than a bag of urea in India, with a bottle costing Rs240 compared to the current price of a bag of urea which is at Rs266.

Headquarterd in New-Delhi, the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) has a net worth $2.3bn, is one of the world’s biggest co-operative societies with around 35,000 member cooperatives reaching over 50m Indian farmers.

($1 = Rs71.60)

Thumbnail picture: A farmer in Hyderabad, India
Source: Mahesh Kumar A/AP/Shutterstock

Interview article by Deepika Thapliyal