The private sector unwilling to “use nano urea” technology, will wait & see for assured sales.
While the government has praised cooperative major IFFCO’s innovation in bringing nano urea, which is eager to see an increase in production of this liquid fertiliser as soon as possible, private companies are less enthusiastic to go for it unless they are guaranteed sales.
‘I’ve spoken with a number of private companies.’ At this point, they are unsure whether to pursue the technology. They say they’ll think about it two or three years from now. ‘Or they could develop their own technology,’ a fertiliser ministry official was quoted as saying before the parliamentary fertiliser standing committee. On Monday, the panel submitted its report.
While some fertiliser companies may take it from IFFCO, others are developing their own nanotechnology, according to the official, who added that it is too early to say anything on this because the panel was of the opinion that transferring nano urea technology to the private sector could be a game-changer in the world economy if it grew correctly and within the time frame specified for the same.
IFFCO has already begun commercial production of nano urea at its Kalol unit, and it plans to establish five additional facilities across the country over the next 12-22 months to increase availability. Furthermore, public-sector companies National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) intend to open their nano urea plants by July 2024.
Previously, NFL and RCF signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with IFFCO for technology transfer. The government has also asked IFFCO to free of charge transfer the technology to another PSU, Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizers Company Limited (BVFCL).
IFFCO developed nano urea for the first time in the world, and the government approved its use in February 2021. IFFCO has produced 2.40 crore nano urea bottles to date, according to the panel’s report.
Experts are optimistic
The nitrogen particles in nano urea range in size from 20 to 50 nanometres. This is very small in size, and one conventional urea prill, with an average thickness of 2.8 mm, is equivalent to 55,000 nano urea particles.
A 500 mL bottle costs ₹240, whereas a 45 kg bag of conventionally subsidised urea costs 266.5. Many experts believe that because a farmer can transport 20 nano bottles to the field in a bag, whereas 20 urea bags require a tractor, there will be a preference for this liquid fertiliser very soon.
Though the government is optimistic that nano urea has the potential to replace conventional urea, the report states that while ten lakh rupees is to be spent to promote nano urea (in FY22), expenditure as of January 31 is zero.
The government, on the other hand, believes that once all eight plants are operational, the total capacity will increase to 44 crore bottles per year (the equivalent of 198 lakh tonnes of conventional urea).