Focus: GS-III: Agriculture
Why in News?
Recently, the Union Cabinet approved Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilisers for Rabi season 2022-23 from 1st October, 2022 to 31st March, 2023.
About Nutrient-Based Subsidy Regime
- Under the Nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) regime – fertilizers are provided to the farmers at the subsidized rates based on the nutrients (N, P, K & S) contained in these fertilizers.
- Also, the fertilizers which are fortified with secondary and micronutrients such as molybdenum (Mo) and zinc are given additional subsidy.
- Under the Nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) regime, the subsidy on Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers is announced by the Government on an annual basis for each nutrient on a per kg basis – which are determined taking into account the international and domestic prices of P&K fertilizers, exchange rate, inventory level in the country etc.
- NBS policy intends to increase the consumption of P&K fertilizers so that optimum balance (N:P:K= 4:2:1 ) of NPK fertilization is achieved.
- This would improve soil health and as a result the yield from the crops would increase resulting in enhanced income to the farmers.
- Also, as the government expects rational use of fertilizers, this would also ease off the burden of fertilizer subsidy.
- It is being implemented from April 2010 by the Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers.
Issues Related to NBS
- Urea is left-out in the scheme and hence it remains under price control as NBS has been implemented only in other fertilizers.
- There is an imbalance as the price of fertilizers (other than urea) — which were decontrolled have gone up from 2.5 to four times during the 2010-2020 decade. However, since 2010, the price of urea has increased only by 11%. This has led to farmers using more urea than before, which has further worsened fertilizer imbalance.
- Considering that fertilizer subsidy is the second-biggest subsidy after food subsidy, the NBS policy is not only damaging the fiscal health of the economy but also proving detrimental to the soil health of the country.
- Subsidised urea is getting diverted to bulk buyers/traders or even non-agricultural users such as plywood and animal feed makers. It is being smuggled to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal.