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6. Assessment of Potential

One of the following two approaches is generally employed to assess fertilizer consumption potential:-

  1. derivation from food production target to meet the nutritional needs of the population, i.e. the output or end-use approach.

  2. calculation on basis of area under each major crop and recommended level of fertilisation of each crop, i.e. the input approach.

The output method is useful to determine the long-term potential for fertilizer. These projections are not of relevance to manufacturing or marketing companies, nor to wholesalers. What these firms need is a long-term demand forecast (as distinct from potential) as a guide for their investment decisions. The response ratio assumed for the purpose of projecting fertilizer consumption can vary from one agro-climatic region to another due to differences in soil, management practices, irrigation available, etc.

Although the potential determined by this method is based on several subjective assessments, the approach can be adopted by planning ministries for developing long-term policies and plans. While it is of limited use as a forecast of effective fertilizer demand, the exercise is useful in that it recognises the importance of fertilizer use efficiency in increasing food production.

The procedure under the output method is relatively simple and does not involve complex mathematical tools. The basic data for applying it is available in most countries and consists of:

The following steps are involved in the assessment of potential by the output method:

The input method assesses potential by using the desirable nutrient dosage for each major crop and the area under each. The resultant food production may still be inadequate to feed the growing population at the desired nutritional standard but it is useful to know the deficit. The output approach focuses attention on need and the input approach on capability.

The following steps are involved in the assessment of potential by the input method.

The limitations of the input method are:-

This method is not really a forecast but a visualisation of the possible future potential, useful mainly to agricultural departments as a yardstick to measure progress in relation to fertilizer adoption. In actual practice, all farmers do not use fertilizers and those applying fertilizers rarely adopt the recommended rate. The gap between the current fertilizer application and the projected potential under this method provides the basis for a development programme to encourage farmers to use fertilizer and to persuade present users to follow the recommended rate. District assessment of potential on this basis is useful for marketing organisations as a measure of potential to allocate development efforts and resources.

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