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New Initiative: Sugar Mills to Supply Potash from Molasses to Fertilizer Companies at Rs 4,263/Tonne

PDM, a potassium-rich fertilizer derived from ash in molasses-based distilleries, is a by-product of the sugar-based ethanol industry

In a significant development announced by Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra on Thursday, sugar mills across India will now sell Potash Derived from Molasses (PDM) to fertilizer companies at a rate of Rs 4,263 per tonne for the current year. This move comes as a part of the Central Government’s efforts to bridge the gap between fertilizer companies and sugar mills, leading to a mutually beneficial agreement on the pricing of PDM.

PDM, a potassium-rich fertilizer, is an eco-friendly by-product from the sugar-based ethanol production process. The agreement on its pricing was facilitated by the ministries of food and fertilizers, aiming to boost potash availability in India and reduce the country’s dependency on imported potash.

The Food Secretary highlighted the potential of this initiative to be a “win-win” for all parties involved, addressing the long-standing issue of price agreement between fertilizer companies and sugar mills. Additionally, manufacturers of PDM will be eligible for a subsidy of Rs 345 per tonne under the Nutrient-Based Subsidy Scheme (NBS), further encouraging the production and use of this domestically produced fertilizer.

Discussions are currently underway between sugar mills and fertilizer companies to establish long-term sale and purchase agreements for PDM. With around 5 lakh tonnes of potash ash already being sold domestically and a production potential of up to 10-12 lakh tonnes, this initiative not only opens a new revenue stream for sugar mills but also supports timely payments to farmers.

This initiative is part of the Central Government’s broader efforts to lessen India’s import dependence in the fertilizer sector. The Department of Food further explained that the production of PDM involves processing the potash-rich ash obtained from burning spent wash, a waste chemical from ethanol production, ensuring Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD). This environmentally friendly process yields PDM with a 14.5% potash content, offering a sustainable alternative to the imported Muriate of Potash (MoP) which contains 60% potash content.

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