Farmers are forced to buy nano-urea while buying a regular bag of urea
A group of farmers in Rajasthan called ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ has filed a complaint with the Competition Commission of India (CCI), saying that growers are forced to buy nano-urea when they buy a regular bag of urea or di-ammonium phosphate (DAP). It has asked for an immediate halt to the practice and a return of the fees levied on farmers.
IFFCO, a cooperative that manufactures nano-urea, declined to comment.
Rampal Jat, who is the president of the Kisan Mahapanchayat, has asked the CCI to issue an interim order to protect farmers and consumers from being forced to sell. ‘Therefore, by presenting the application, it is a humble plea that the duty to purchase nano urea be immediately suspended, and the sum acquired from farmers, together with compensation, be returned to aggrieved farmers, along with interest,’ Jat added.
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Conditions for vendors
He said that fertilizer dealers—village co-operative societies—only provide pre-existing urea and DAP fertilizers after farmers purchase nano urea. ‘They force farmers to take a bottle of nano urea for every bag of regular urea or DAP. If a farmer buys ten bags of DAP, he is compelled to pay ₹2,400 for ten bottles of nano-urea,’ the farmer leader said in the petition.
IFFCO produced nano urea for the first time in the world, and the government approved its use in February 2021, with commercial sales beginning in August. Nano urea includes nitrogen particles ranging in size from 20 to 50 nanometres. This is extremely small, and one standard urea prill, with an average thickness of 2.8 mm, is equivalent to 55,000 nano urea particles. A 500 mL bottle costs ₹240, and a 45-kilogram bag of conventionally subsidized neem-coated urea costs ₹266.5.
Despite the fact that 2.9 crore bottles (500 ml each) of nano urea were produced, IFFCO sold 2.15 crore bottles between August and March 2021-22. This fiscal year, IFFCO plans to create 5.5 crore bottles of nano-urea.
Additional nano urea plants
When all seven plants in the pipeline become online in two years, the government expects nano-urea production to climb to 44 crore bottles per year (equal to 19.8 million tonnes of conventional urea).
To improve supply, IFFCO plans to build five new plants across the country during the next 12–22 months. Furthermore, the public-sector National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) plan to start up their nano urea factories by July 2024. The government has also asked IFFCO to give the technology for free to Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizers Company Limited (BVFCL), which is also a government-owned company.
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According to the farmer leader, he utilized nano-urea in the wheat crop on his 1.7 bigha land in 2021 and obtained 7.50 quintals of grain, although his previous year’s production was 18 quintals from the same land without using the liquid fertilizer.
‘If crop productivity increases and fertilizer expenditure decreases as a result of nano urea, farmers will inevitably begin purchasing.’ This necessitates on-the-ground demonstration rather than coerced sales,’ Jat explained.