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CSE Report flags poor state of organic fertiliser, biofertiliser sector in India

  • Category
    Economy
  • Published
    11th May, 2022

Context

Drastic reduction in the production of organic fertilisers observed in India in 2020-21 when compared to the data of 2017-18.

Background

What are organic fertilisers?

  • Organic fertilizerscomprise a variety of plant-derived materials that range from fresh or dried plant material to animal manures and litters to agricultural by-products.

What are the benefits of using organic fertilisers?

Helps improve the Soil Structure:

  • Because of the organic matter present in organic fertilizer, soil structure is improved and as a result the soil’s ability to hold onto water and nutrients increases.

Microbes Thrive

  • Synthetic fertilizer consists of chemical molecules without carbon.
  • These molecules can sometimes be disruptive and are not accessible to microbes.
  • Organic fertilizers are rich in organic matter, which helps microbes thrive.
  • Organic fertilizer contains carbon as part of its chemical makeup; and it is the carbon, along with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that feeds microbes and enables them to make nutrients available for plants in a naturally occurring biological process.

Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly

  • Synthetic fertilizers runoff into our waterways harming marine life and water quality.
  • Organic fertilizers do not run off as easily (if at all) and are associated with soil structure.
  • It has been observed that organic fertilizer also increases species biodiversity by 30% compared with synthetic fertilizer.

Reduces the use of Fertilizers and Pesticides

  • Although organic fertilizer can be more costly than synthetic, it can reduce the need for pesticides and the overall nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium requirements.
  • Because of the reductions, organic fertilizer can be cost neutral and sometimes a cost savings.
  • Plant Damage Threat Avoided
  • Some synthetic fertilizers can cause plant damage to leaves and roots. This is less likely with organic fertilizers.

What are the Disadvantages of Using Organic Fertilizers?

Not All Products Are Created Equally

  • Not all products are created equally and many organic products produce inconsistent results. 

Nutrient Levels Are Low

  • The level of nutrients present in organic fertilizer is often low.
  • In addition, the nutrients are usually complexed in organic chemical structure; this means using organic fertilizer may not produce the pop of colour seen with a chemical fertilizer.

DIY Compost is a Complicated Procedure

  • Creating an organic compost is a messy and complicated process that often leads to an inconsistent product and end-result.

Production of Organic Fertilisers in India:

  • Making compost out of agriculture, animal and plant waste has been practised in India for a long period of time.
  • Today though we are seeing a new era of organic fertilizers which are made using modern technologies and machineries.
  • India, at this point of time, is the biggest producer of organic fertilizer in the world. Though the production of the same in the last few years has gone down drastically.
  • Karnataka alone produces 94% of organic fertilisers in India.

What the reasons for reduction of organic fertilisers in India?

  • Farmers in India have become habitual of using inorganic fertilisers and making them shift towards the use of organic fertilisers is the biggest hurdle.
  • Inorganic fertilisers have a history of giving bumper harvest since the time of Green Revolution and hence farmers in India continue to use them ignoring their ill-effects.
  • Resources allotted by the Indian and state governments for manufacturing, distribution and promotion of organic fertilizers are miniscule when compared to the overall allocation made to the Agricultural sector.
  • Data of companies through whom state governments procure organic fertilisers is opaque and hence tracing them and enquiring about the quality of their product is difficult.
  • Stakeholders indicate widespread corruption and faulty tender process in such procurements.
  • Farmers do not get good results because of such poor quality products and lose confidence in organic and bio-inputs available in the market.
  • Not many companies today are operating in this sector and hence low competition is leading to sub-standard products being available in the market.
  • Quality control infrastructure is poor. Many states do not have their own testing laboratories.

Way forward

Way forward:

  • Promoting the use of organic fertilisers amongst farmers is of utmost importance.
  • Farmers must be made to realise about the agricultural and environmental impact that indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers have.
  • Union and states governments need to allocate more financial resources to the manufacturing and promotion of organic fertilisers.
  • Procurement and distribution of organic fertilisers should be left to be done by local self-government bodies which could ensure transparency in the process.

Mains Question

Q1. Organic food export can transform Indian economy. Discuss the challenges faced by organic farming in India. What policy measures are needed to overcome them?

Q2. Sri Lanka’s experiment with Organic Farming has raised questions on its efficacy. In light of this statement, discuss the future of organic farming in India.

 

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