Bio & Organic Fertilisers

NITI Aayog has released a report on the promotion of Bio and Organic Fertilisers.

Organic Fertilisers

  • Organic fertilisers are substances made up of one or more unprocessed materials of a biological nature (plant/animal) and may include unprocessed mineral materials that have been altered through the microbiological decomposition process.
  • Organic fertilisers are composted/fermented products made from organic wastes (city waste, agro-waste, crop residue, livestock waste, food processing industry waste etc.)
  • Organic fertilisers specified under FCO, 1985 are classified into the following categories:
  • City compost
  • Vermicompost
  • Phosphate-rich organic manure
  • Organic manure
  • Bio-enriched organic manure
  • Bone meal (raw/steamed)
  • Potash derived from rhodophytes
  • Fermented organic manure
  • Liquid-fermented organic manure


  • Biofertilisers are different from organic fertilisers. Biofertilisers are defined as a product containing carrier-based (solid or liquid) living microorganisms which are agriculturally useful in terms of nitrogen fixation, phosphorus solubilisation or nutrient mobilisation, to increase the productivity of soil and/or crop (FCO 1985).
  • Upon application to seed or soil, these microbial preparations multiply rapidly around emerging crop roots and fix/mobilise nutrients from air and soil, from unavailable form to available form.
  • Nutrient solubilisers (P, K or Zn solubilizers) transform insoluble nutrients present in the soil to soluble form for easy uptake by crop plants.
  • Average dose of mixed bio fertilisers application is 6 litre/hectare for liquid formulations and 12 kg/hectare for solid carrier-based for solid carrier-based, for fixation/solubilisation of 20-25 kg nutrients/hectare.
  • Biofertilisers are available in four different forms:
    • Nitrogen fixers (Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azospirillum, Gluconacetobacter)
    • Phosphorus solubilisers (Wide range of bacteria, fungi and Mycorrhiza)
    • Potassium solubilisers (Bacillus mucilaginous, Bacillus edaphicus, Bacillus circulanscan, Frateuriaaurentia)
    • Zinc and other micronutrient solubilisers.

Regulation of Organic & Biofertilisers

  • Organic & Biofertilisers are regulated by the Fertiliser (Inorganic, Organic or Mixed) (Control) Order (FCO, 1985) under the Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare.
  • Currently, 11 bio fertilisers & 10 organic fertilisers are approved under FCO for use in India as of now.

Need for promoting organic and biofertilisers

  • Sustainable Agriculture: Organic and chemical-free agriculture can reverse environmental ill effects like groundwater depletion and loss of biodiversity etc primarily caused due to overuse of chemical fertilisers and pesticides after the green revolution.
    • Nutrient run-off from farms laced with chemical fertilisers adversely affects land ecosystems.
    • Ammonia emissions from agricultural activities can combine with vehicle exhausts to create dangerous particulates in the air and exacerbate respiratory diseases.
    • Chemical fertiliser production and use also lead to significant greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Promoting Soil Health: India’s soil is getting depleted of organic matter. Nutritional quality of food produced from soil poor in organic matter is also poor. Organic and bio fertilisers conserve the micro-fauna of soil and act as a natural surface purifier. Dung manure contains basic elements critical to plant health i.e., nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and several micronutrients. Also, humus in dung manure act as a soil amender and preserves moisture in the soil. Application of organic and bio fertilisers will lead to the sustainability of agriculture.
  • Incomes for farmers and gaushalas: Promoting the use of cow dung manure will improve economy of gaushalas, support natural farming and improve sustainability of agriculture.
  • Address the problem of stray cattle: Promoting use of cow and animal waste-based organic and bio-fertilisers will address the issue of stray cattle which has led to a big menace in rural areas.
  • Waste management: Production of bio and organic fertilisers from animal waste, cow dung etc. will help to sustainably address the issue of waste management in rural areas.
  • Less input cost of agriculture: Increasing the use of bio and organic fertilisers will reduce the input cost of farming and is expected to increase the incomes of farmers over the long term.
  • Reduced expenditure on fertiliser subsidy: Fertilisers subsidy alone accounts for more than Rs 1,50,000 lakh crores per year. This increases the fiscal deficit of the government. This can be reduced if we promote the use of bio and organic fertilisers.
  • Fertiliser security: Most chemical fertilisers have to be imported into India as India lacks domestic sources of phosphorous, potassium and urea. This dependence on imports exposes Indian agriculture to supply chain constraints. Thus, promoting bio and organic fertilisers will come to the fertiliser supply more assured.

Government Initiatives for Promoting Organic and Biofertilisers

  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana
  • Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region
  • Namami Ganga Program
  • National Program for Organic Production
  • Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme (CISS)
  • Soil Health Management Scheme
  • Policy on Promotion of City Compost
  • New National Biogas and Organic Manure Programme (NNBOMP)
  • Government has set a target to bring additional 10 lakh hectares under organic farming in the next 3 years.


  • Heavy subsidies on chemical fertilisers especially urea discourage the use and uptake of organic fertilisers and biofertilisers, which do not get any subsidy.
  • Limited R&D in the field of organic & bio fertilisers.
  • Lack of regional resource centres for the supply of authentic and efficient microbial strains; Lack of awareness of biofertilisers for proper preservation, sub-culturing, storage, and procurement of authentic strains suitable for local environmental conditions.
  • Lack of availability of options for enriched organic fertilisers with essential nutrients for agricultural use.
  • Absence of economically viable mass production systems could lower the selling cost of biofertilisers.
  • Inadequate funds are spent on the promotion of bio and organic fertilisers despite various schemes for their promotion of them.
  • Lack of suitable infrastructure: Infrastructure support funds provided under schemes like the Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme and Soil Health Management have not seen much uptake in states and remain underutilised. Gaushalas and farmers cannot market compost and other organic fertiliser produced by them and there is no organised market and buyer for their produce.
  • Lack of extension and awareness on the use and benefits of organic and bio fertilisers amongst farming communities.
  • Issues of regulation: (i) FCO does not list some bio & organic fertilisers prepared from livestock waste such as Panchagavya, Dasagavya, Sheep & Goat Manure, Poultry Manure, Sanjivak, Gokripa Amrut, Amrit Pani, Fermented curd water, Ghanjivamrut, Crystallised cow urine. (ii) Lack of testing facilities and personnel and certification for organic and bio fertilisers in states which have slowed market prospects for manufacturers of organic fertilisers, especially PROM. (iii) Currently, the regulatory process for Bio and Organic fertilisers differs between states.

Way Forward

  • Digitisation of the whole process of manufacturing, license to sale authorisation to a dealer, stock records and maintenance, timely sampling by an inspector as per FCO with time-bound consultation with States.
  • Parity between inorganic and bio and organic fertilisers: There is a need for some parity in support for organic & bio fertilisers vis-a-vis organic, bio fertilisers and other animal waste-based compost, manures, jivamrit etc. This will also help cow farmers and cow shed owners earn extra income.
  • Marketing of bio & organic fertiliser: (i) Public sector fertiliser distribution agencies like IFFCO, KRIBHCO and such state-level agencies should be mandated to market standardised bio and organic fertilisers. (ii) A mechanism should be established to mandate fertiliser selling and manufacturing agencies to sell inorganic and organic fertiliser. (iii) Policy support to encourage commercial production, packaging, marketing & distribution of cow dung-based organic fertilisers including brand development. (iv) Gram panchayats should be involved in the production of organic and bio fertilisers at cow sheds.
  • Expanding the scope of FCO, 1985: (i) FCO, 1985 should be amended to include livestock waste fertilisers such as Panchagavya etc. (ii) Adequate testing facility should be created for manufacturers of organic and bio fertilisers. (iii) Quality certification of bio and organic fertilisers should be undertaken which would help farmers to identify safe and certified products. (iv) There is a need for uniformity in the regulatory process accommodating state specificities across India for registration and marketing of bio and organic fertilisers.
  • Incentives to encourage production and consumption of bio & organic fertilisers: (i) Extension of subsidy/market development assistance for bio fertiliser in line with city compost Rs 1500/ton. (ii) Mandatory 10-20% off-take of bio and organic fertiliser by fertiliser companies. (iii) Via gap funding to be provided to capital assistance and marketing of cow dung and cow-urine-based formulations for application in agriculture. (iv) Attracting the private sector to invest in mass-scale production of organic and bio fertilisers, bio pesticides, soil-enriching products and stimulants for use in agriculture.
  • Research & Development: (i) Improvement of efficiency of different formulations of organic and bio fertiliser. (ii) ICAR and other institutions should be encouraged to research organic & biofertilisers. (iii) These institutions should be encouraged to carry extension among farmers to take over bio and organic fertilisers.

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