10 May 2023, New Delhi: Measures are being taken by the Department of Fertilizers, Government of India for deterrence against any malpractices and to ensure quality fertilizers for the farmers. These measures have resulted in averting the diversion and black marketing of fertilizers in the country.
Special teams of dedicated officers called Fertilizer Flying Squads (FFS) have been formed to keep a strict vigil and to check diversion, black marketing, hoarding, and supply of sub-standard quality fertilizers across the country.
The Fertilizer Flying Squads has conducted over 370 surprise inspections across 15 states/UTs which included mixture units, Single Superphosphate (SSP) units, and NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) units. Consequentially, 30 FIRs have been registered for diversion of urea, and 70,000 bags have been seized of suspected urea (from Gujarat, Kerala, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Karnataka (excl. GSTN seizure). Out of 70,000 bags, 26,199 bags have been disposed of as per FCO guidelines). The FFS has also inspected three border districts of Bihar (Araria, Purnia, W.Champaran), and 3 FIRs have been filed against urea diverting units; 10 including 3 mixture manufacturing units in border districts have been de-authorized.
112 mixture manufacturers have been deauthorized due to several discrepancies and lapses found in documentation and procedures. Sample testing has also been ramped up with 268 samples tested as of now, of which 89 (33%) have been declared sub-standard and 120 (45%) found with neem oil content. For the first time, 11 persons have been jailed under the Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies (PBM) Act for diversion and black marketing of urea in the last year. Several other legal and administrative proceedings have also been exercised by states through the Essential Commodities (EC) Act and Fertilizer Control Order (FCO).
These steps have resulted in keeping a check on the diversion of urea meant for farmers for agricultural purposes. Despite the world facing a fertilizer crisis due to various global downturns, the Government of India is providing urea to farmers at reasonably subsidized rates (a 45 kg bag of urea costing approx. Rs. 2,500 is being sold at Rs. 266). Besides agriculture, urea is used in many other industries too, like UF resin/glue, plywood, resin, crockery, molding powder, cattle feed, dairy, and industrial mining explosives. Any illegal diversion of this highly subsidized urea meant for the farmers and agriculture for non-agriculture/ industrial purposes by many private entities results in a shortage of urea meant for farmers.
Apart from these, new innovative practices are being encouraged, such as new mixture modules that have been developed in the Integrated Fertilize Management System (iFMS) by the Department of Fertilizers. This would help in spreading awareness amongst farmers about the quality of fertilizers along with other online services available on the portal. A strict vigil is now being undertaken for ensuring the quality of products as well as licenses. Due to such relentless efforts, there has been an increase in demand for Technical Grade Urea. Due to fewer licenses being issued by States for mixture manufacturing, many of the existing mixture manufacturing units have shifted to selling bio and organic fertilizers, thus promoting natural farming to reduce the consumption of chemical fertilizers.
Proactive measures have not only benefitted the farmers but have also created cross-country demand for our fertilizers. Stoppage of cross-border smuggling of urea has consequently led to neighboring countries requesting India for urea imports to their respective countries for the first time.
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