"A level-playing field needs to be created between the chemical fertiliser and bio-fertiliser industry. A budgetary allocation of even 10 per cent of the subsidy being provided to chemical fertilisers will provide a huge boost to the bio-fertiliser industry," said Santosh Nair, Chief Executive Officer of Camson Biotechnologies Ltd, leading player in bio-fertiliser sector.
Bio-fertiliser is a substitute to chemical fertiliser, which helps to prevent soil deterioration and pollution of the ground water table.
"Such a step would revolutionise the agricultural landscape in India, as it will reduce the buying cost of bio-inputs by more than 50 per cent. This would empower farmers to gain greater agricultural efficiency and success while improving India's soil health at the same time," said Nair.
Excessive use of chemical fertilisers has led to many serious agricultural issues besides dragging down the economy and inflating the import bill.
Currently, India's total subsidy bill for chemical fertilisers stands at Rs 220,000 crore of which, 30 per cent is utilised only for urea import. Total urea requirement in India is estimated at 32 million tonnes. India also imports nearly half of its complex fertiliser requirement of 28 million tonnes a year.
A senior industry official said that India's bio-fertiliser industry was in a budding stage. Hence, a helping hand was required to support the industry and create a level-playing field for equal growth and opportunity. Being 100 per cent natural, bio-fertiliser should be encouraged through subsidy extension, he said. According to Nair, creating and delivering value to the farmers who switch over to bio-fertilisers should also be a priority.
He added that the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act should be extended to mandate testing for chemical residue at APMC mandis . The fresh produce could be labelled according to residue level. This would increase consumer awareness and in turn, enhance the value that organic fresh produce commands. It will also ensure traceability of the produce and create a sense of accountability at every link in the distribution system.