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Old schemes, now with ‘PM’ branding — what is govt’s ‘One Nation One Fertiliser’ initiative

Under new scheme, both public & private sector companies will be required to sell subsidised fertilisers under a single brand name, in uniform bags displaying scheme branding.

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New Delhi: A new name for an existing scheme and new packaging — that’s the idea behind the government’s newly launched ‘One Nation One Fertiliser’ initiative to bring about uniformity in fertiliser brands.

This move comes at a time when the Union government’s expenditure on fertiliser subsidies has been on an upward trajectory, particularly after the war in Ukraine led to a spike in global energy and chemical nutrient prices. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing a gathering of members of cooperative bodies in May this year, had estimated that the fertiliser subsidy bill could exceed the Rs 2 lakh crore mark this financial year, up 25 per cent from Rs 1.6 lakh crore last year.

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What is ‘One Nation One Fertiliser’ 

Under the new initiative, both public and private sector companies will be required to sell subsidised fertilisers under a single brand name, for example, BHARAT UREA or BHARAT DAP.

The new brand name, along with a logo of the renamed scheme — Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janurvarak Pariyojna (Prime Minister’s Public Fertiliser Scheme) or PM-BJP — will cover two-thirds of the front of new fertiliser bags. The remaining space on the front will display information about the manufacturer, including name, logo, address and other statutory information.

According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers dated 24 August, a copy of which ThePrint has seen, the new fertiliser bags will be introduced into circulation beginning 2 October.

Advising fertiliser companies not to procure bags carrying the old design from 15 September onwards, the government has given them time till the end of this year to exhaust all old packaging.

What govt, fertiliser industry are saying

National vice president of the BJP, Baijayant Jay Panda hailed the initiative by calling it the “call of New India”. “The brand ‘Bharat’ as reiterated time and again by PM @narendramodi led government is the call of #NewIndia which will take our nation to greater heights — focussing on development till the last mile,” Panda wrote in a tweet Thursday.

While the fertiliser industry is yet to react to the initiative, a spokesperson for a private manufacturer told ThePrint that the move has sparked fears of dilution of brand value.

“Since all bags will look the same, dealers will push what they choose. Years of investment in creating a brand and farmer loyalty is now at risk,” said the spokesperson, who did not wish to be named.

A number of central government schemes in the food and agriculture sector already carry the name of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). These include PM-KISAN (direct cash transfer scheme for farmers), Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (crop insurance scheme for farmers) and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (free food assistance scheme).

What critics, opposition are saying

Opposition parties criticised the Narendra Modi government over the ‘One Nation One Fertiliser’ initiative, terming it an exercise in “self-promotion”. 

Nothing that the Sarvavyapi (omnipresent) does for self-promotion should surprise us anymore,” Congress MP Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet Thursday.

Ajay Vir Jakhar, chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj, a farm policy advocacy organisation, too, believes common branding for fertilisers will serve no political purpose. “But the government can always make it mandatory for manufacturers to disclose the subsidy component in each bag of fertiliser,” Jakhar told ThePrint.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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