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Fertilizers in India Agricultural Development, Problems and Policies

  • Agricultural Science


The importance of fertilizer in agricultural production has increased substantially in the last 25 years. The current level of its use, however, is insufficient to arrest depletion of soil fertility. Under our circumstances the use of organic manures alone will not suffice to arrest this process. Thus, there is no alternative to continuously raising levels of fertilizer use, more so because further growth in agricultural production critically depends on intensive cultivation of land. Neither the past record of achieving the planned targets of fertilizer use, nor the trends in the growth of fertilizer consumption could be relied upon to attain even the scaled-down levels of fertilizer was laid down in the Fifth Five Year Plan. To attain these levels, for instance, fertilizer use must grow by over 600,000 tonnes every year upto 1983-84. Against this, in the first half of this decade it increased by only 68,000 tonnes a year. Thus the task of generating the requisite acceleration in the trends of fertilizer consumption is by any standard stupendous. Clearly, marginal manipulations of the price environment and other ad hoc measures do not size up to this task. What is required are vigorous policies based on the correct understanding of the forces which have governed the past growth in the use of this input. Past research provides valuable insights into some of the major aspects of the problem of increasing fertilizer use. These insights are brought together in this paper to highlight the nature of the problem. It also points out why the past policies which emphasized the supply and distribution aspects will not suffice in the current context. Finally, the paper suggests a workable strategy to generate continuous rapid growth in demand for this input.

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