- India has become the first country in the world to have developed and roll out nano-fertilizers.
- So far, it has launched nano-versions of two fertilizers – Urea and Diammonium Phosphate (DAMP).
- While nano-Urea has been made available to farmers since late 2021, nano-DAP was launched in April 2023.
- The Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), which had developed the variants using propriety technology, claims that Nano-UREA and Nano-DAP have several advantages over their conventional granular counterparts.
- Both Nano-Urea and Nano-DAP come in liquid form.
- IFFCO claims that a 500 ml bottle of nano-urea an replace at least a 45 kg bag of granular urea and a bottle of 500 ml nano-DAP can replace a 500 kg bag of granular DAP.
- The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers (2022-23), headed by Shashi Tharoor have enumerated several advantages of nano-fertilizers in its March 2023 report:
- Soil Health: Nano-UREA can address the imbalanced and excessive used of conventional urea in the country, which accounts for around 82% of nitrogenous fertilizers applied to majority of the crops.
- It costs lesser than subsidized conventional fertilizer thus reducing the cost for farmers.
- They also result in better productivity and higher income for farmers.
- The PSC report notes that it has average 8% higher crop yield.
- Experts also believe that these nano-fertilizers will lead to reduced import dependency of fertilizers and save forex reserves.
- It will also contribute to reduced fiscal burden of government because of reduced fertilizer subsidy cost.
- Doubts about Yield gain: DTE has reported interviews of several farmers who had to resort back to traditional fertilizers after, nano-fertilizers didn’t give good results.
- Labour cost for spraying fertilizer is increasing the overall input cost for farmers.
- Complaints about farmers being forced to buy Nano-Urea.
- Issue of Evaluation/Trial: ICAR has given results of field trail based on a year (two seasons) of experiments in its affiliated labs. This was an exception as ICAR normally tests a new fertilizer for 2 years (or three seasons) before giving go ahead to a new fertilizer.
Conclusions: Nanotechnology could play a crucial role in promoting sustainable agriculture in India and nano-urea is an example of that. At the same time, it should be ensured that any new technology-based product is properly evaluated in its efficacy, environmental impact and economic impact on farmers.
“The Nano-Fertilizer technology can change the contours of not just Indian agriculture but also the economy” Critically analyze [10 marks, 150 words]