India plans to exploit phosphate reserves for domestic production of fertilisers to cut down imports

Minister of state for fertliser Mansukh Mandaviya has issued instructions to commercially exploit and ramp up the production in the existing 30 lakh tonnes of phosphorite deposits which are available in Rajasthan, central part of peninsular India, Hirapur (Madhya Pradesh), Lalitpur (Uttar Pradesh), Mussoorie syncline (Uttarakhand) and Cuddapah basin (Andhra Pradesh). 

For over a decade now, prices to the farmers of phosphatic and potassic fertiliesrs are to a large extent determined by the market as subsidies provided by the government are fixed. These fertilisers are mostly imported, as high as 90% of annual demand.

Chairing a meeting with ministry officials and industry stakeholders to improve the availability of phosphatic fertilisers and to reduce the dependence on imports, Mandaviya said that the department of fertilisers is ready with an action plan to make India Aatmanirbhar in rock phosphate, the key raw material to manufacture DAP.

Discussion and planning with department of mining and Geological Survey of India is going on to expedite the exploration in the potential potassic ore resources in Rajasthan’s Satipura, Bharusari and Lakhasar and to explore in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

All the departments are working jointly to start the mining of potential reserves as soon as possible, the statement said. Potash is the key raw material to manufacture Muriate of Potash (MoP) fertiliser.

In 2019-20, the total sales of DAP (Di Ammonium Phosphate) and MoP fertilisers were to the tune of around 13 million tonnes, out of which DAP alone had about 10 million tonnes, according to industry estimate. In 2020-21, the consumption of DAP and MoP fertilisers was estimated to have grown by over 15% to about 15 million tonnes.

The international prices of phosphoric acid, ammonia and other items used in DAP have gone up by 60-70% since late March. Prices of finished DAP in international market have also increased. Despite this sharp increase, DAP prices in India were initially not increased by the companies, but some companies later increased the prices beginning of this financial year. The government subsequently asked all the fertiliser firms to sell their old stocks of DAP at the old prices only.

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