India's urea import is set to surge by 60 per cent to 80 lakh tons in 2008-09 on account of higher demand from farmers, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has said.
"Demand for urea was 250 lakh tons last year. Domestic production is about 200 lakh tons. We imported 50 lakh tons last year and I feel we will have to import 79-80 lakh tons this year," he told PTI.
Paswan expressed concern over the rising import cost due to soaring fertiliser prices in the global market, but said "as the matter is related to farmers, we will have to import".
"We are buying DAP at Rs 51,000 per tonne, but selling to farmers at Rs 9,300 per tonne. We are importing urea at Rs 22,000 per tonne but supplying it to farmers at Rs 4,830 per tonne," the minister said.
The import of urea in higher quantity would ensure adequate availability of fertiliser to farmers during Kharif season.
Paswan ruled out any increase in the fertiliser prices, saying that such a move would raise the cost of production to the farmers, resulting in rise in minimum support price.
The minister pointed out that fertiliser subsidy would mount to Rs one lakh crore in 2008-09 as compared with Rs 45,000 crore in the previous year.