Agriculture World

NFL Ensures Supply of Fertilizers during Lockdown

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

The Ministry of Home Affairs announcement that key industries such as agriculture, fertilizers and goods transportation will be allowed to resume fully from 20 April, lifting restrictions on farming, plantations and fertilizer units to allow harvesting operations. National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) Indian public-sector importer and producer is working to ensure adequate supply of fertilizers to farmers during the country's extended lockdown, with its urea plants in Nangal, Bathinda and Panipat and two units at Vijaipur operating fully and producing at more than 11,000 t/d. 

Labour and logistical shortages over the last two months as a result of India's lockdown measures have severely delayed the crucial rabi harvesting season, which normally ends in March. The kharif sowing period, which generally begins in April, has also been affected. 

Several large sulphur consumers and producers have also started putting in requests for sulphur deliveries and are looking at restarting operations by 20 April rather than at the end of this month, following the government announcement. 

Around 135,000t of ammonia has been lined up for delivery to India in April, down by around 35,000t from March and by around a third from India's average monthly import of 200,000t. Import demand for DAP in India has picked up over the past few weeks, with at least 590,000t of DAP booked for April-May shipment. 

Phosphoric acid demand has been stifled in April, with the slowdown expected to carry into the first half of May because of low production amid the lockdown, increased turnarounds at plants and a labour shortage. But production should see an uptick from the second half of May when logistics are fully resumed, allowing employees to return to work. 

The IMF forecasts India's economy to grow at 1.9pc in the April 2020-March 2021 fiscal year, the lowest level in three decades, compared with an estimated 4.2pc in 2019-20. 

More than 11,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 300 deaths have been reported in India to date, with Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi among the most affected, according to government data. This has made it harder for the central government to lift restrictions, especially as only a fraction of the country's 1.3bn population has been tested. 

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