Manoj Mishra, Chairman and Managing Director, NFL spoke to the Free Press Journal on various issues concerning the company as well as the fertilizer industry.
Primarily a urea manufacturing company, National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) has made successful foray into the marketing of other fertilizers like DAP, MoP, NPK, Bentonite Sulphur, Bio-fertilizers, City Compost, Seeds and Agro chemicals. The company has a total annual installed capacity of 35.68 lakh MT of urea and has a share of about 15.5 per cent of total Urea production in the country.
How has the company performed in 2017-18?
2017-18 has been a great year for the company. We broke all previous records of production as well as sale of urea. The company recorded its best-ever production by prilling more than 38 lakh MT Urea with 118 per cent capacity utilization. Other than best production, we crossed 40 lakh MT fertilizer sale figure for the first time this year. So, we have best-ever urea production, highest-ever sale of fertilizers and lowest-ever energy consumption in all plants. This has happened for three years in a row. It is a hat-trick for us.
What are the main triggers of performance?
We made it a point to run plants on sustained basis without leaving any scope for unplanned shutdowns which made it possible to register a capacity utilization of 118 per cent. Along with Urea, we also did record production and sale of industrial products.
The company imported fertilizers like DAP, MoP and NPK during the year for marketing in India. This not only added to the volume of urea, but also made our total fertilizer sale cross 40 lakh MT for the first time. The energy consumption, one of the main inputs of urea, also remained lowest-ever in all the production units.
In recent years, NFL has been focusing on non-urea business. How have been the results?
Our non-urea business has almost doubled this year. We imported 4.50 lakh MT fertilizers (DAP, MoP, NPK) this year and added a turnover of Rs 1,100 crore. In December 2017, we have commissioned our Bentonite Sulphur plant in Panipat with annual capacity of 25,000 MT. Our seeds and agro chemical business is also picking up. We now have Urea, DAP, MoP, NPK, Bentonite Sulphur, Organic Fertilizers, Seeds and Agro Chemicals in our kitty. We have successfully transformed from a single product to a multi product company. We are providing all fertilizers, seeds, agro chemicals to farmers under one roof now.
What are the plans for 2018-19?
Urea will always remain core business of NFL. We will try to maintain the levels in 2018-19. We are buoyant by the success of our non-urea business. We are going to increase volumes in the segment by more than 100 per cent in 2018-19. In addition to this, Seeds and Agro-chemicals will be another area where we will be putting in more efforts. Our Seed Multiplication Programme is going in full swing. We produced our own 78,000 quintals of seeds this year. We plan to scale it up further. Similarly, we will be adding more molecules of Agro-chemicals in coming season.
How is your Ramagundam joint venture progressing?
Our Ramagundam project is progressing satisfactorily and is likely to start commercial production by end of the financial year. The Ramagundam plant will have a capacity to produce 12.72 lakh MT urea per annum. Since NFL will be marketing this urea under its brand name, we have started strengthening our marketing network in southern states. Our Hyderabad marketing office is fully operational to market urea produced at Ramagundam. Once our Ramagundam plant starts production, we shall be the largest indigenous urea manufacturer and seller in India.
What is the future of organic fertilizers in India?
With more awareness about balanced fertilization and to maintain the health of soil, the consumption of organic fertilizers is picking up. NFL is already offering Bio fertilizers in three strains and is promoting its use by organising regular trainings to farmers. We plan to further expand this segment by adding more strains. City Compost is another fertilizer which we are offering to farmers and we have kept our prices lowest in the industry to give impetus to Swachh Bharat Movement.
How is your seed business performing? Any big plan for future there?
We started our seed business with the objective of providing all types of agri-inputs to farmers under one roof. Though initially we traded in seeds, we are now fully focused on growing our own seeds. We have registered progressive seed growers in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to grow seeds under stringent quality specifications. We are purchasing directly from these seed growers without any middlemen and directly crediting the payments into their bank accounts. We have a network of more than 1,000 growers by now.
In 2015-16, we made a humble beginning with production of 8,200 quintals of certified seeds at Sangria in Rajasthan by motivating 33 progressive growers to produce seeds. We stepped this up further in 2016-17 by adding four more locations and produced 32,000 quintals quality seeds. Last year, we produced 78,000 quintals wheat, paddy, mustard, gram and soybean seeds in six locations. With good infrastructure in place, we are all set to produce 1, 50,000 quintals of quality seeds in 2018-19. We have a target of producing at least 4 lakh quintal seeds in market by the year 2020-21.
We also have a 16-acre dedicated research and development (R&D) farm at our Nangal Plant which exclusively produces highest quality foundation seeds from breeder seeds. We are regularly conducting trials in our farm on newly-released varieties of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana.