Fertilizer subsidies and Indian Agriculture

 

Mohammed Tahir Raoof Malik1, Dr. Dil Pazir2

1PhD Research Scholar (Economics), Department of Economics, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Rajouri, (JandK) India-185234.

2Head Department of Economics, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Rajouri, (JandK) India-185234.

*Corresponding Author Email: maliktahir399@yahoo.com

 

ABSTRACT:

Agriculture around the globe serves as a powerful engine of Economic growth and development. In India, agriculture acts as a central pillar of economy as almost 60% of work force is employed in this sector. To increase the output of agriculture sector, the government intervenes by providing input subsidies. The Government of India is continuously providing subsidies on fertilizers, electricity, irrigation and credit, since early 1970s. The present study is an attempt to estimate the amount of subsidies granted by Government of India from time to time and the trends of total subsidies granted. The author tried to analyze the percentage increase in the amount of subsidies from 1976 to 2017-18 and to compare the agricultural output to the subsidies granted. In an attempt to find out the impact of subsidies on agricultural growth, the author analyzed that the fertilizer subsidies have increased with a rapid rate compared to other subsidies. The results show that the fertilizer subsidies have increased by 84.33% since 1991-92 compared to the agricultural output which increased by just 18.38% during the same period. The study is based upon the secondary data published by fertilizer association of India, agricultural statistics, Government of India, input survey of Government of India and fertilizers statistics (various issues).

 

KEYWORDS: Subsidies, Agriculture, Fertilizers, Irrigation, Electricity

 

 


INTRODUCTION:

Agriculture around the globe serves as a powerful engine of Economic growth and development. Therefore, every government in the world shows a keen interest in agricultural production by intervening up to a large extent in policy making. Everywhere in the world the agricultural systems are forced to undertake the strategies for maintaining food production (Pretty, 2008)                

 

Subsidies in agriculture play a vital role in stimulating growth and development of any country by encouraging agricultural production. Agricultural subsidies granted in various forms like Price support programme, input subsidies, and direct transfer payments, Cutting interest rates on advances (credit subsidies), Reducing cost of raw material etc. The main aim of agricultural subsidies is to enhance the agricultural production and make it available at cheaper and affordable rates to public.

 

Indian agriculture is the largest employer of the country as it provides employment to almost 60% of Indian population. Therefore, agricultural subsidies become the integral part of Indian agriculture system and formers. In spite of active participation of government, the agricultural growth rate in India had declined since 1990s, especially during last several years (Alag 2004, Bhalla 2004 and Gulati 2004). Therefore it becomes a topic of debate for researchers, policymakers and various politicians that in spite of continuous intervention and constant efforts made by government of India from time to time, why the agricultural produce shows a fluctuating trend.

 

The present paper is an attempt to analyze the recent trend in government agricultural subsidies especially the fertilizers subsidies. The author has made an attempt to estimate the share of fertilizers subsidies compared to other subsidies like subsidies on irrigation, electricity and credit subsidy provided by government of India. The attempt has been made to empirically analyze the impact of agricultural subsidies on agricultural growth and to know about the causes of fluctuating behavior of agricultural output. Moreover the author in the present study has made an attempt to compare the proportion of investment made in all three viz, Fertilizers, Irrigation and Electricity subsidies by the government and their impact on the agricultural output during the last couple of decades/since liberalization.

 

A subsidy is considered as the converse of tax, as it is derived from a Latin word “subsidium” which means coming for assistance from behind. Usually it is the money granted by government to the needed. The aim of granting subsidies is to create wedge between the producers cost and consumers price. However the agricultural subsidies are the financial or nonfinancial assistance to the farmers to help them to reduce the cost of agricultural production. The input subsidies like Fertilizers, Irrigation and Electricity are very common in India.

 

A brief review of related literatures is must to carry on every research work, therefore related to agricultural subsidies, Sharma (1982)carried out a research of the duration 1971-72 to 1981-82 to know the impact of agricultural subsidies on national income. By using the general equilibrium model the author revealed that the subsidies have a positive impact on agricultural productivity and national income. Gupta (1984) made an attempt to analyze the agricultural subsidies in India from 1970-71 to 1982-83. By using the linear regression model the author concluded that there was a larger inter-state disparity in spite of increase in agricultural subsidies at faster rate. Sharma (1990) exhibited that the subsidies have become unsustainable. There is a dire need of institutional reforms to bring a relief on exchequer, to make investments in agricultural sector at large scale. Gulati (2007) made an estimate of trends in government subsidies and investments of Indian agriculture. The author criticized the excess investment in the form of agricultural subsidies to fertilizer, power, irrigation and credit subsidies sector. Rather the author advocated diverting the investment in agricultural research, rural infrastructure and education in order to eradicate poverty. The author was also of the view that the promotion of nonfarm opportunities is important. Weilong Zhang (2005), in his work agricultural subsidies and development argued that the subsidies are not only the helpers to the poor farmers but also as per the theories of Smith, Recardo and Heckhkher-Ohlin (chapter 4 of international business) are the burden on the tax payer of advanced nations and global trade as a whole. Subsidies are also criticized at a larger level by some noble lariats’ like Arrow and Garard Debreu, who are of the view that in a perfectly competitive market the introduction of subsidies can bring disequilibrium and externalities, hence the decline in social welfare. On the other hand Keyenes is of the view that subsidies should be promoted as it helps in production/output hence increase in effective demand and therefore beneficial for economic health of a country.

From the above studies this could be summarized that agricultural subsidies is a worldwide phenomena, therefore a hottest issue for debate of present day researchers.

 

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES:

This present research study focuses on the following two research questions:

1. To access the trends in Government subsidies in Indian agriculture.

2. To analyze the impact of fertilizer subsidies on agricultural output.

 

METHODOLOGY:

The study is a descriptive analysis which relies on secondary data. The data related to central subsidies on fertilizers from 1976-77 to 2017-18 is taken from various Annual reports of department of fertilizers, government of India. Expenditure budgeting, Vol. I-GOI is also used for extraction of this data. The data about total food grains productivity/output for both cases i.e. productivity in million tons and yield in Kg per hector from 1960-61 to 2006-07 is taken from the source Ministry of agriculture, GOI, 2007. The economic survey report of 2007-08 is used to estimate the average total GDP growth rate and agricultural growth rate and share of agriculture growth in total GDP at 1999-2000 prices  from 1951-52 to 2005-06 in India. Moreover, the data from fertilizers statistics (various issues), input survey of GOI, and agriculture statistics at a glance and fertilizer authority of India reports has been taken to carry out the study. Pie charts, bar diagrams Trends and Tabulation is done to make a clear cut representation of data and results.  

 

Trends in Subsidies

Before 1943 there was no control on fertilizers prices and till early 1970s the fertilizer subsidy was never a burden on central budget, therefore no record of input subsidies for agriculture sector are available. After the first oil price shocks, the situation changed radically in India after 1973-74 (Desai 1993). The famous fertilizer retention price scheme 1977 played a significant role in further rise in budgetary subsidy to the agriculture sector (Desai 1993, Gulati and Narayan 2003).

 

Fertilizer subsidy which started from Rs 60 crore in 1976-77, increased almost 10 folds to Rs 604 crore in 1979-80 (Table 1). It jumped to 70000 crore in 2016-17 which is a 99.13% increase from 1979-80 and 93.14% increase since liberalization, which was 4800 crore in 1991-92 (Table 1). Compare to the total government subsidies, the fertilizer subsidies have been increasing at a faster rate (Sing 2004). The ratio of subsidies to GDP has however steadily declined in 1990s (Sing 2004).  

 

Total Input Subsidies

A complete set of input subsidies i.e. fertilizers subsidy, subsidy on electricity and irrigation subsidy are estimated and explained below. The final estimates of input subsidies which go to Indian agriculture are shown in figure 1. It is quite clear from the data presented in the figure that input subsidies in Indian agriculture increased almost 4 times from INR 1228.54 crore to INR 4796.16 during 1980-81 to 1985-86. From 1985-86 t0 1990-91 it increased by about 3 times from INR 4796.16 crore to INR 13176.97 crore. Before liberalization the input subsidies in Indian agriculture increased at an annual growth rate of 12.61% and 9.11% respectively during the period 1980-81 and 1992-93(at 1981-82 constant prices). During the post liberalization period the total input subsidies increased by almost 9 times from INR 13176.97 crore to INR 15952 crore during 1990-91 to 2008-09. In net shell the total input subsidy increased by 94.38 times during 1980-81 to 2008-09. If fertilizers, electricity and irrigation subsidies are taken into consideration one by one, it is analyzed that the fertilizer subsidies increased by 215 times, electricity subsidy by 41 times and irrigation subsidy by almost 37 times from 1980-81 to 2008-09.

 

Electricity subsidy had the highest share exhibiting growth rate of 19.89% per annum from 1980-81 to 1992-93, followed by fertilizer subsidy which was 16.37% per annum. These two were followed by credit and irrigation subsidies with percentage growth rate of 5.46% and 4.82% respectively during the same period at constant prices. Up to the end of 1982-83, the credit subsidies and irrigation subsidies occupied the highest shares with 36% and 55% of total input subsidies respectively (Gulati 1995). Later during 2008-09 the fertilizer subsidy showed a sea change in its increase and contributed 87.26% share in input subsidies compared to the previous 24.8% share during 2000-01 However Subsidy on Electricity got 12.74% share and almost 1% share was granted as irrigation subsidies,  as shown in figure 1.

 

 

 

Figure 1: Trends of  various input subsidies (1980-81 to 2008-09).

Source: (1) Government of India, Fertilizers association, Fertilizer statistics, (various issues), New Delhi. (2) Government of India, State Electricity Boards, Annual Reports (Various Years). (3) Kaur and Sharma, 2012

 

Fertilizer subsidy itself increased in its share from previous 24.80% during 2000-01 to 87.26% during 2008-09, which is quite large. Figure 2 shows that the overall contribution among the total input subsidies is in the form of fertilizer subsidies i.e. it has more than 60% of its share in subsidies.

 

 

Figure 2: Contribution of input subsidies (Fertilizers, Electricity and Irrigation) from 1980-81 to 2008-09.

Source: Fertilizer Association of India.

 

Fertilizers subsidy

In India till 1985-86, the fertilizers were imported by Mineral and Metals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) on behalf of ministry of agriculture Government of India. Some pool handling agencies were made responsible to transport the fertilizers from ports to the farm gate. These agencies were paid charges for handling, dumping and transportation by government of India. The charges paid to the agencies also include the unloading charges, packing in bags, marketing expenses and dealers margins, collectively known as domestic handling charges. This was an add on burden on imported fertilizers price. In 1986-87 with a hope of cutting down handling cost, a new system called ‘tender system’ was introduced by government of India, with effect from April 1986.

 

The Fertilizers subsidy could be estimated as the difference between what the cultivator would have paid under free trade scenario and what they are actually paying. It is a price at which farmers would have got fertilizers under assumption that government would have not intervened in the system either through retention price scheme (RPS) or through control on imports of fertilizers.

 

Table 1: Central Subsidies on Fertilizers 1976-77 to 1991-92

                                                                                                    In Crore

Year

All Fertilizers

Imported

Indigenous

Total

1976-77

NA

NA

60

1977-78

241

25

266

1978-79

171

172

343

1979-80

283

321

604

1980-81

335

170

505

1981-82

100

275

375

1982-83

55

550

605

1983-84

142

900

1042

1984-85

727

1200

1927

1985-86

324

1600

1924

1986-87

197

1700

1897

1987-88

114

2050

2164

1988-89

201

3000

3201

1989-90

771

3771

4542

1990-91

659

3730

4389

1991-92

1300

3500

4800

Source: (1) Annual Reports, Department of Fertilizers.(2) Expenditure budgeting vol. I –GOI

 

 

Taking into consideration the amount of fertilizers subsidy granted by Government of India, it is divided into two phases. The first phase is pre liberalization phase i.e. 1976-77 to 1991-92 and the second phase is post liberalization phase from 1991-92 to 2016-17 and even up to the budget estimate of 2018 (till date). As table 1 shows that during the pre liberalization period, the subsidies granted on imported fertilizers were more in the beginning with 241 core in 1977-78 as compare to indigenous which was just 25 crore. The subsidies on imported fertilizers declined down to 55 crore in 1982-83 and with considerable fluctuations reached 1300 crore in 1991-92. On the other hand subsidies on indigenous increased with a constant rising trend and ended up at higher node at Rs 3500 crore in 1991-92. By the end of pre liberalization period, the total subsidies on fertilizers reached up to Rs 4800 crore, which was 80 times hike over the Rs 60 crore during 1976-77.

 


 

Table 2: Central Subsidies on Fertilizers 1992-93 to 2017-18                                                                                                                               In Crore

Year

Urea

Decontrolled PandK Fertilizers

Total Subsidies on all Fertilizers

Imported

Indigenous

Total

1992-93

996

4800

5796

340

6136

1993-94

599

3800

4399

517

4916

1994-95

166

4075

5241

528

5769

1995-96

1935

4300

6235

500

6735

1996-97

1163

4743

5906

1672

7578

1997-98

722

6600

7322

2596

9918

1998-99

333

7473

7806

3790

11596

1999-2000

74

8670

8744

4500

13244

2000-01

01

9480

9481

4319

13800

2001-02

47

8044

8091

4504

12595

2002-03

-

7790

7790

3225

11015

2003-04

-

8521

8521

3326

11847

2004-05

494

10243

10737

5142

15879

2005-06

1211

10653

11864

6596

18460

2006-07

3274

12650

15924

10298

26222

2007-08

6606

16450

23056

16934

39990

2008-09

10079

20969

31048

65555

46603

2009-10

4603

17580

22183

39081

61264

2010-11

6454

15081

21535

40766

62301

2011-12

13716

20208

33924

36089

70013

2012-13

15133

20000

35133

30480

65613

2013-14

11538

26500

38038

29301

67339

2014-15

12223

38200

50423

20653

71076

2015-16

12278

38200

50478

21938

72415

2016-17 RE

11000

40000

51000

19000

70000

2017-18 BE

97688

40000

49768

20232

70000

Source: (1) Annual Reports, Department of Fertilizers.  (2) Expenditure budgeting vol. I –GOI


 

 

Fertilizers subsidies have shown a big hike after liberalization. Every year since 1992-93 the government of India has increased the amount of Fertilizers subsidies during the annual budgets. Table 2 shows a continuous rising trend starting from 6136 crore in 1992-93 to 70000 crore during the budget estimate of 2017-18 granted by government of India. The more share of central Fertilizers subsidies were granted to the indigenous sources of fertilizers compare to the imported fertilizers, a contrast to pre liberalization phase. A considerable amount has been continuously granted as subsidies to decontrolled P and K fertilizers.

 

 

Table 3: Fertilizer consumption, Fertilizer subsidy and Percentage share of subsidies granted Statewise.

State

Fertilizer Consumption (‘000 tonnes)

Fertilizers Subsidy (Crore)

Share of States in Fertilizers subsidy (%)

Assam

286.44

807.15

1.12

Bihar

1346.19

3793.38

5.26

Jharkhand

114.62

322.98

0.45

Odisha

499.54

1407.64

1.95

West Bengal

1466.91

4133.55

5.74

Haryana

1303.15

3672.10

5.10

Himachal Pradesh

53.06

149.52

0.21

Jammu and Kashmir

110.07

310.16

0.43

Punjab

1717.75

4840.38

6.72

Utter Pradesh

4271.64

12036.90

16.70

Uttarakhand

170.37

480.08

0.67

Andhra Pradesh

1738.83

4899.78

6.80

Telangana

1177.57

3318.23

4.60

Karnataka

1831.97

5162.24

7.16

Kerala

209.50

590.34

0.82

Tamil Nadu

1014.80

2859.57

3.97

Gujrat

1684.00

4745.28

6.58

Madhya Pradesh

1796.94

5063.53

7.03

Chattisgarh

605.40

1705.93

2.37

Maharashtra

2814.66

7931.33

11.01

Rajasthan

1298.98

3660.35

5.08

All India

25576.12

72070.00

100.00

Source: Fertilizers Association of India, 2015.

 

Table 4 shows the total fertilizers consumption and subsidies granted by government of India, state wise. It is quite clear that Utter Pradesh is a state which uses the highest level of fertilizers and also receives the highest amount of subsidies among all other states of India i.e. 16% of whole. It is followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka which are continuously receiving 11.1% and 7.16% share of subsidies respectively. Other states like Madhaya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and West Bengal get a considerable amount of fertilizers subsidies from government of India.

 

The least receivers of fertilizers subsidies among Indian states are Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand with share of 0.21%, 0.43% and 0.45% respectively granted by government of India.

Table 4: Average GDP Growth rate of Agriculture sector of various periods(at 1999-2000)

Duration

Period

Total Economic Growth (%)

Agriculture and Allied Activities (%)

Pre Green Revolution

1951-52 to 1967-68

3.7

2.5

Green Revolution

1968-69 to 1980-81

3.5

2.4

Technology Dissemination

1981-82 to 1990-91

5.4

3.5

Early Reforms

1991-92 to 1996-97

5.7

3.7

9th and 10th Plan

1997-98 to 2006-07

6.6

2.5

2005-06 to 2006-07

9.5

4.8

Source: Economic Survey 2007-2008

 

The share of average GDP growth rate of agriculture sector is also on a continuous rise similar to the total economic growth of India. Table 3 shows a small decline in agriculture growth during 9th and 10th plans compare to the reform periods of 1990s, but later recovered by showing an increase to 4.8% from previous 2.5% agricultural growth rate.

 

 

Table 5: Share of Percentage of Subsidies distribution in Agriculture of various countries.

Country/Region

Subsidy per hectare

% Subsidies

Population dependent on agriculture

EEC

$82

37%

8%

USA

$32

26%

5%

Japan

$35

72%

4%

China

$30

34%

24%

South Africa

$24

60%

18%

India

$14

2.33%

60%

Source: (1) WTO Reports

              (2) Salunkhe and Deshmush, 2013.

 

Fig 2: Diagrammatic representation of Subsidies granted and population dependent on agriculture.

Source: Derived from table 5.

Inspite of heavy inputs by Government of India in agriculture sector in the form of subsidies, India still is far behind in case of population involved in agriculture to subsidies granted by government ratio. The WTO reports show that only $14 per hector is granted as subsidy in India, compare to $82 per hector by EEC and $35 by Japan. Table 5 shows that, it is an alarming big gap between population dependent on agriculture in India and subsidy granted by the Government.

 

 

Total 5: Agriculture Yield (Excluding Oil seeds, Cotton, Jute and Mesta) and Government Subsidies.

Time Duration

Yield: kg per Hector

Yield in Million Tons

Government Subsidies in Crore

1960-61

710

80.2

-

1970-71

872

108.4

-

1980-81

1023

129.59

505

1990-91

1380

176.39

4389

2000-01

1626

196.81

13800

2003-04

1727

213.19

11847

2004-05

1652

198.36

15879

2005-06

1715

208.59

19390

2006-07

1707

216.13

28019

Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, 2007.

 

Impact

The agricultural subsidies have various effects on the economy. These effects are in the form of fiscal effect, cropping pattern effect, environmental effect, equity effects, output effect and effect on new industries/technology (Gulati 1995). Taking government subsidies into consideration and its impact on output/ production of food crops, which is summarized in table 4.The very high values of various input subsidies in Indian agriculture also point to the fact that, input subsidies grew at a much higher rate compare to the total plan expenditure made by government of India and by state governments (Gulati 1995). It is discernible from the above data that during the period of 1980-81 to 1990-91 the government subsidies to agricultural sector increased from Rs 505 crore to Rs 4389 crore, and the agricultural output on the other hand during the same period increased from 129.59 million tons to just 176.45 million tons and yield in Kg per hector increased from 1023 Kg to 1380 Kg per hector during the period. It is very much clear that during pre liberalization period the output/production increased by much lesser proportion compare to the rate of subsidies utilized. During 1980s the subsidies increased by 9 times compare to the yield in million tons which increased by just 1.37 times and yield in Kg per hector increased 1.35 times during the whole decade.

 

During the period from 1990-91 to 2006-07 (post liberalization) the data shows that agricultural subsidies increased at an alarming rate compare to the agricultural output which showed the creeping growth rate with some visible declines to specially during 2004-05. From 1990-91 to 2006-07, the government subsidies increased Rs 4389 crore to 28019 crore which is 6.4 times increase. On the other hand during the same period (1990-91 to 2006-07) agricultural yield in million tons increased from 176.39 to 216.13 million tons which is just 1.23 time increase. The yield in Kg per hector during 1990-91 to 2006-07 increased from 1380 Kg per hector to 1707 Kg per hector which too is almost 1.24 times and is much less in proportion to the subsidies utilized. This indicates a heavy burden of input subsidies on the fiscal imbalance of the nation. This sharp increase in the input subsidies without significant results is quite alarming.

 

CONCLUSION:

Agriculture in India is a vital sector from ages, as it is more than 50% of population depends upon agriculture and its allied activities. The fertilizers since 1970s have played a very important role in increase in agricultural output hence gained the importance especially after post liberalization period. The subsidies on fertilizers are must to promote fertilizers and to make them available to the farmers at a reasonable and affordable price, which ultimately helps in increase in total agricultural productivity. Therefore due to increase in the use of fertilizers, the demand for fertilizer subsidy has also increased over time.

 

In conclusion, it is important to recapitulate the main points of the paper. The control on the fertilizers prices started in 1943 and the concept of subsidizing the fertilizers took birth during early 1970s. At first instance the subsidies took a hike and increased by 10 folds with in duration of 4-5 years up to 1980. Among total input subsidies including subsidies on fertilizers, electricity, irrigation and credit, the major share out of all four go to fertilizer subsidies. In 2008-09 the fertilizer subsidies was having 87% share compare to the subsidy on electricity having 12.74% and irrigation subsidy having just 1% share. The fertilizer subsidy is on a continuous hike since 1976-77 and it increased by 98.75% from 1976-77 to 1991-92 which was a huge 80 times increase. Post liberalization from 1991-92 the fertilizer subsidy increased by 93.14% till 2017-18which is a 263.2 times increase since 1977-78. This increase is huge and is sending wrong signals to the farmers and distorting their production baskets (Gulati 1995). This indicates that the input subsidies are crowding out productive investments in agriculture and is a clear sign of eaten up of resources which could have been used for creating productive potentials (Gulati 1995). State wise distribution of subsidies showed inequality and results shows that the fertilizers subsidies clearly concentrated in few states namely Utter Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhyia Pradesh and Punjab, where as Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are the least receiver of subsidies. The share of subsidies provided by GOI, if compared to the population dependent on agriculture is very small compared to the other countries, which are just 2.33% subsidies to 60% of population dependent upon agriculture.

 

The results indicate a declining efficiency in the use of input subsidies as with a continuous increase in subsidies, the agricultural output decreased in some years during last couple of decades. During 9th and 10th plan when total economic growth increased from previous 5.7% (during 1991-92 to 196-97) to 6.6% (during 1997-98 to 2006-07). Whereas the agricultural growth rate showed a decline from previous 3.7% (during 1991-92 to 196-97) to 2.5%  (during 1997-98 to 2006-07).Yield per hector during 2004-05 decrease to 1652Kg per hector from previous 1727 Kg per hector during 2003-04, and at the same time the subsidies increased from Rs 11847 crore to Rs 15879 crore during this period. The rate of growth of food grains production decelerated by 1.2% during reform period (1991-2007). The increase in total government subsidies was 84.33% from 1990-91 to 2006-07 where as the yield in million tons increased just by 18.38% during the same period. It clearly indicates that the agricultural output increased with a slower rate compared to the subsidies utilized. The reason of slow agricultural growth rate is a question mark. The agricultural subsidies are just a partial indicator and the total agricultural productivity could not be estimated by taking only government agricultural subsidies into consideration.

 

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Received on 05.10.2018       Modified on 15.11.2018

Accepted on 09.12.2018      ©AandV Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2019; 10(1): 241-247.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2019.00044.5