Amid fall in sowing area and below normal monsoon reported in this kharif season so far, urea imports have decreased by 54% to 20.31 lakh tonne (LT) in the first five months of 2014-15.
Urea imports stood at 31.27 LT in the April-August period of 2013-14, according to official data. "Urea imports have come down substantially this year so far mainly due to farmers sowing crops in lesser area compared to last year," a fertilizer ministry official said.
Sowing of kharif crop begins with the onset of the southwest monsoon in June and farmers normally start preparing fields before the arrival of rains.
Urea is imported by three STEs (state trading enterprises) — Indian Potash, MMTC and STC — on behalf of the government to meet domestic shortfall.
India produces about 22 million tonne (MT) against an annual domestic demand
of 30 MT.
Besides the STEs, the government imports urea from OMIFCO, which is a joint venture project of IFFCO and Kribhco, with an offtake agreement.
India's urea imports have decreased 12% to 7.08 MT in 2013-14, due to carry-over stocks from the previous year. The country had imported 8.04 MT of urea in the entire 2012-13 fiscal.
Urea is provided to farmers at a fixed subsidised maximum retail price of R5,360 per tonne. The difference between the cost of production and MRP of urea is provided as subsidy to manufacturers.
The government is also working to revive the closed domestic fertiliser units to increase the domestic production of soil nutrient.
Earlier, fertilizer minister Ananth Kumar had also said his aim is to make the country self-reliant on widely-used soil nutrient.
Kumar had also assured the farmers that there will not be any shortage of urea in the ongoing kharif season.