BJP, if voted to power, will rationalise chemical fertiliser subsidy

According to highly placed government sources, the Soil Health Card — a printed report containing soil nutrient status — will also be linked with fertiliser subsidies.
Image used for representational purpose only
Image used for representational purpose only

NEW DELHI: Rationalising chemical fertiliser subsidies will be one of the top priorities of the BJP if it gets elected again in the Lok Sabha elections and forms a government at the Centre for a third consecutive term.

According to highly placed government sources, the Soil Health Card — a printed report containing soil nutrient status — will also be linked with fertiliser subsidies.

Earlier, the government was forced to take a U-turn on three contentious agriculture market reform laws following a year-long farmers’ agitation.

India’s total agriculture sub sidies are about to touch 4 trillion, or 2 per cent of the GDP. Of this, the fertilisers comprise round 1.75 trillion, which comes to around 44 per cent of total agriculture subsidy.

“If the Narendra Modi government repeats its performance during the last two elections, the government will bring agriculture reforms to the centre stage, especially in the fertilisers subsidy,” said a senior government officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

The government is looking for optimisation of fertiliser use and restoring soil nutrient balance, he said, adding, “This term of the Modi government will be considered as an endorsement of his agriculture reform efforts sidelined by the farmers’ protests.”

The government will take a multi-pronged strategy, including increasing investments in bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides, and linking the subsidy with the 11.69 crore soil health cards already distributed.

The government has also long been under pressure from the World Trade Organisation to rationalise its chemical fertiliser subsidy, distorting the market and causing harmful impacts. In the current system, all far mers get subsidised chemical fertilisers irrespective of the soil health.

“The government will link the Aadhaar number with soil health cards and allocate fertilisers as a requirement of the field. For instance, if a field has enough nitrogen content, the nitrogen urea subsidy will be reduced. Besides, a method of incentivisation has also been devised to pay back farmers as ecosystem conservation service,” said the officer.

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