This post is a part of BioBiz’s Bio-CNG Perspectives.
BioBiz, a division of EAI, is a leading market intelligence & strategic consulting firm for the Indian bio-based sectors.
This blog post uses the terms bio-CNG and renewable natural gas (RNG) interchangeably.
Bio-CNG or bio-compressed natural gas, also known as sustainable natural gas or biomethane, is a biogas which has been upgraded to a quality similar to fossil natural gas and having a methane concentration of 90% or greater. As the gas is derived from natural and renewable sources, it is also termed renewable natural gas (RNG).
Digestate is a nutrient-rich substance produced as a by-product by the anaerobic digestion of waste materials. The digestate comprises both solid and liquid fractions – both the fractions have the potential to be used as an organic fertilizer. However in India, currently, the market for the digestate produced through anaerobic digestion is still nascent, owing to some challenges in the quality of digestate produced and lack of awareness about its potential as an organic fertilizer among the farmers and related end use segments. As digestate is a major by-product produced, it is essential for prospective investors to demonstrate its potential as a sustainable fertilizer and make it a saleable product.
Since the digestate produced through anaerobic digestion has properties similar to an organic fertilizer, and owing to the nascency of this digestate market in India, this blog post provides data on the organic fertilizer market in India.
Organic fertilizers – an overview
Organic fertilizer is a mixture of decayed organic matter. It is usually made by gathering plant material such as leaves, grass clippings and vegetable peels and animal waste into a pile or bin and letting it decompose with the help of earthworms, fungi and bacteria. Organic fertilizers can also result as a by-product from the process of anaerobic digestion. Organic compost contains essential macro and micro nutrients for plants that are often absent in synthetic fertilizers.
Demand for organic fertilizers in India
The demand for organic fertilizers is rising in India as well as internationally due to increasing awareness of organic farming and sustainable agricultural practices. The market for organic fertilizers market in India was 2547 lakh metric tonnes in the year 2015-16.
The major consumers of organic fertilizers include horticulture farmers, farmers of export oriented crops, farmers of crops such as ginger and turmeric and urban households that use compost for their home gardens.
Organic fertilizers are of three categories – vermin compost, city compost and organic manure, of which, organic manure has higher organic content compared to other organic fertilizers.
The market for organic fertilizers is expected to have a significant growth until 2022 in the Asia Pacific region, especially Brazil and India. Increase in per capita income leads to high demand for organic food, which also drives the market for organic fertilizers in this region.
Based on the form, dry organic fertilizers dominated the market as these are cost effective and can consist of a single material or a blend of different ingredients. Almost all dry organic fertilizers provide an extensive range of nutrients; however, there are a few dry organic fertilizers with a balanced proportion of NPK and micronutrients. They are widely used among farmers as they do not require the use of advanced technology-based hardware.
Key players in the organic fertilizers market include Tata Chemicals Limited, Coromandel International Limited, National Fertilizers Limited, Krishak Bharati Cooperative Limited and more
Government support to promote organic fertilizers in India
In India, organic fertilizers have been tested scientifically in the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), institutions and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) on various crops and soil types and found suitable for improving soil health and crop productivity. The organic fertilizers presently available may supplement (N,P) by nearly 20-25%. Biofertilizers when applied along with compost @ 5t/ha or vermicompost @ 2t/ha, fertilizer saving is almost 50%. The advantages of these organic fertilizers are that they are eco-friendly and not only provide nutrients for maintaining soil fertility but also improve the physical & biological health of the soil.
Government is also promoting the use of organic manures under the scheme Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) of National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
Based on the above trends, it is to be noted that there is significant growing interest towards organic fertilizers in India. However, in terms of digestate generated through anaerobic digestion process, not much progress is observed. Hence it is essential for prospective investors to devise strategies such as demonstration plants, partnerships with NGOs, agro cooperative societies and appropriate laboratories (for testing and certification of digestate) to promote the use of AD based digestate in agricultural and horticultural applications.
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