March 19: Lack of chemical fertilizers is a major problem in Nepal, an agricultural country. After the government cut the subsidy given to farmers for the purchase of chemical fertilizers a few days ago, farmers are protesting saying that there will be more problems.
Meanwhile, the issue of opening a fertilizer factory in Nepal has come up time and again for a long-term solution to this problem.
Stakeholders are divided on whether to open nitrogen-based fertilizer factory (urea production industry) or phosphate blending based fertilizer factory (balanced fertilizer industry) on the other side. Stakeholders say that it is more appropriate to establish a factory based on phosphate blending for a country like Nepal.
Chandrakanta Dallakoti, central president of the Fertilizer Association of Nepal, who has worked in the field of chemical fertilizers for a long time says that a fertilizer factory based on phosphate blending is the most suitable for a country like Nepal. Experts say that when setting up a nitrogen-based factory (urea production factory), about 800 megawatts of electricity will be needed per day and natural gas will also be consumed in large quantities. Even to set up a small factory that produces 46 percent nitrogen (urea), more than a billion rupees is required as investment. He opined, “This produces more fertilizer than we need, but our market is small. Therefore, in the current situation, this issue seems to be a little impossible.”
However, there is a possibility of establishing a fertilizer factory based on phosphate blending in Nepal with the participation of the private sector to produce DAP by mixing nitrogen and phosphate. Various studies revealed that it can be established with an investment of around Rs 100 billion. According to a study conducted by the Investment Board Nepal in 2015, it will cost Rs 75.58 billion to open a nitrogen-based fertilizer factory in Nepal.
According to Dallakoti, different types of fertilizers can be produced from fertilizer factories based on phosphate blending. Not all crops need nitrogen. Vegetables, rice, wheat and other crops need not only nitrogen but mixed fertilizers. In the fertilizer produced from such a factory, all elements including nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, iron, and boron, copper are mixed in a balanced manner in one fertilizer.
Fertilizers required for rice, corn, wheat, pulses, fruits, mustard and other crops can be produced from such a factory. Fertilizer factories based on phosphate blending are also established in countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. More than 30 of such factories have been established in India alone.
Stakeholders say that for a long-term solution to the fertilizer problem, the government should improve the Fertilizer Policy 2053 and involve the private sector in it and think about establishing a fertilizer factory based on phosphate blending.