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PM Modi calls upon farmers to cut usage of chemical fertilisers, pesticides 

Financial Express , Aug 16, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an emotional appeal to farmers to reduce use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides by 10-25% to save the soil. He invoked the sacrifices of freedom fighters and asked farmers to get blessings in saving ‘Mother Earth’ by reducing the chemicals used in agriculture.

Pointing out that no one has the right to damage soil health, Modi said: “Have we ever thought about the health of the Mother Earth? The way we are using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, we are destroying the earth.” The prime minister also said that a campaign should eventually start to stop their use completely.

According to a FICCI study, the current use of pesticides and other agrochemicals in India is 0.27 kg per hectare. The Indian pesticides industry terms this usage as very low compared to 4.58 kg/hectare in the US. Out of about 9 lakh tonne of agrochemicals produced in India annually, the bio-pesticides segment has only 3% share, which indicates huge potential for it as the government shifts focus towards natural farming. Over 50% of the agrochemicals produced in the country are exported every year.

Paddy (26%-28%) and cotton (18%-20%) are the two major crops where these chemical pesticides are used. Andhra Pradesh is the top consumer of agrochemicals with a share of 24% while eight states — Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Haryana — account for more than 70% usage of agrochemicals in India, the FICCI study shows.

Indian farmers use about 55 million tonne urea, DAP (phosphatic), MoP (potash) and complex fertilisers annually every year to increase the productivity. The per capita consumption of fertiliser is 1.65 quintal/hectare. Any reduction in fertiliser use will also help the government to reduce the subsidy, which is estimated at Rs 79,996 crore (Rs 53,629 crore for urea and Rs 26,367 crore for nutrient-based subsidy) for FY20.

Earlier, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech had said: “We shall go back to basics on one count: Zero Budget Farming. We need to replicate this innovative model through which in a few states farmers are already being trained in this practice. Steps such as this can help in doubling our farmers’ income in time for our 75th year of Independence.” Under Zero Budget Farming, no chemical fertiliser or pesticide is used, while bio-fertiliser and bio-pesticides made from cow dung, cow urine, neem leaves etc by the farmer himself are used.

The prime minister also reiterated the government’s commitment to double farmers’ income and mentioned that Rs 90,000 crore under the PM Kisan Scheme to provide direct income support to farmers would help achieve the target. In Budget 2019-20, a provision of Rs 75,000 crore has been allocated for PM-Kisan, under which Rs 6,000 (in three equal installments) will be transferred to banks accounts of 13.8 crore eligible farmers annually.

IFFCO cuts complex fertilisers rate by Rs 50 per bag

Fertiliser major IFFCO on Thursday reduced the price of its complex fertilisers, including DAP, by Rs 50 per bag as part of efforts to bring down farmers’ input cost, reports PTI. The rate cut will be applicable from August 15.