Potash for Life Reforms Indian Agriculture

ICL’s Potash for Life Initiative is Transforming Indian Agriculture for a Sustainable Future

September 28, 2023
3 mins
Dr. Patricia Imas, Agronomy content manager & commodities specialist – ICL Growing Solutions

ICL Growing Solutions is a global leader in the fertilizer industry, manufacturing and supplying controlled-release, water-soluble fertilizers, and liquid fertilizers, Polysulphate-based, potash, phosphate, and granular compound fertilizers. We are committed to promoting sustainable agricultural practices that stimulate soil health, increase nutrient use efficiency, reduce water usage, and minimize agriculture’s carbon footprint. One of our standout initiatives is the “Potash for Life” program, which is specifically focused on transforming agriculture in India by optimizing the use of potash, a vital nutrient for plant health and crop productivity.

The Significance of Potash

Potash, a critical fertilizer containing potassium, plays a fundamental role in plant nutrition. Its benefits span various physiological and biochemical processes in plants, including the movement of water, nutrients, and carbohydrates, enzyme activation, photosynthesis, and resistance to diseases, pests, drought, and low temperatures. Proper use of potash has been shown to dramatically increase crop yields across a wide range of crops, including soybeans, sugarcane, tomatoes, and vegetables, and has also been shown to improve the quality and shelf life of produce.

Using the balanced fertilization approach, it’s possible to increase yields by 10% to 30%, improve produce quality, while reducing the doses of nitrogen required.

Potash improves the yield of soybean crop

Challenges in Potash Utilization in India

In 2010, India faced a challenge when potash prices soared due to a reduction in government subsidies. This subsidy reduction led to a sharp drop in the use of potash in the optimized NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) ratio, negatively impacting crop productivity, soil fertility, and farm profitability. Recognizing this sustainability challenge, ICL initiated the “Potash for Life” program to address the issue and promote sustainable agriculture practices in India.

The “Potash for Life” Program

The Potash for Life program is designed to achieve life-changing results for farmers and consumers globally, aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Potash for Life is a strategic partnership between ICL and Indian Potash Limited (IPL). It is a prime example of a global, multi-stakeholder partnership that brings together the expertise and financial resources to enable meaningful progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (as stipulated in SDG 17.16 Enhance global partnerships for sustainable development). Furthermore, the program contributes to SDG 2: Zero hunger, by enhancing agricultural productivity and small-scale farmer income through education about the optimal use of potash.

Key Features of the Program

  • Educational Initiatives: Potash for Life provides comprehensive farmer and agronomist education through demonstrations, training workshops, field days, meetings, and informational materials like brochures, videos, webinars, and social media posts. These efforts empower farmers with knowledge about the benefits of potash and proper dosage and application methods.
  • Hands-On Engagement: Farmers and dealers can witness the tangible results of potash application through demonstration plots. These plots showcase increased crop yields and profitability, helping to convince farmers of the advantages of balanced fertilization.
  • Impressive Impact: To date, through its network of agronomists, the Potash for Life program has reached approximately 500,000 Indian farmers. Over 7,000 demonstration plots and 2,000 educational activities have been conducted, leading to substantial yield increases. Analysis of the data from the demonstration plots indicates that average wheat yields increased by 19%, rice by 13%, tomatoes by 17%, onions by 20%, and groundnuts by 23%.
  • Economic Benefits: The program has not only improved crop yields but also enhanced profitability. The net profit per hectare and benefit:cost ratio were higher in potash-applied plots than those that did not receive supplemental potash. In one sugarcane plot in Maharashtra, crop yield increased by 8%, and the benefit:cost ratio reached an impressive 13.8:1. This indicates that for every rupee invested in potash, farmers receive 13.8 rupees in return.

Our Commitment to Sustainable Agriculture

ICL’s partnership with the Potash for Life program demonstrates our dedication to sustainable agriculture practices and enhancing the livelihoods of Indian farmers. Through this initiative, ICL combines technical expertise, research, and development capabilities with our commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

This unique project works with farmers and the wider ag community in India to improve crop yields and soil fertility.

The “Potash for Life” initiative is a shining example of how ICL collaborates with strategic partners to drive sustainable agricultural practices. By empowering farmers with knowledge and resources, the program increases crop productivity and contributes to the broader goals of ending hunger and promoting sustainable development.

Potash improves tomato quality and yield