Ramdev plans to set up potash unit in UP and seeks contribution from sugar mills
As the Russian-Ukrainian crisis threatens the availability of imported fertilizers in the country, Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Biological Research Institute (PORI) has reached out to sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh with a proposal to produce potash locally from incineration ash discarded by their distilleries as an alternative to muriatic potash (MoP).
PORI already produces organic potash, organic phosphate-rich manure, organic fertilizers and pesticides. He wrote to the Uttar Pradesh Sugar Mills Association (UPSMA) requesting 1 lakh metric tons of incinerated ash as raw material for the production of organic potash, bio-fertilizer and other agricultural inputs.
According to PORI, locally produced potash would not only help farmers obtain organic-rich manure at low cost, but would also increase their profits. According to sugar industry sources, senior officials from the Haridwar-based institute are in talks with the UPSMA regarding the supply of incineration ash for the production of muriate of potash (MoP).
“PORI management has written a letter to the UPSMA in this regard, and we will make a decision on this soon,” he added. said a sugar mill who requested anonymity. However, PORI representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sugar mills are required to have incineration boilers as a pollution control measure, which burn the residue discharged as effluent from the sugar mills’ captive distilleries in an environmentally friendly manner. With some pruning, the ash produced contains 22-28% potash, which can be converted to MoP.
“Due to its high potash content, the ash acts as a feedstock for the MoP, which contains 60% potash,” the official explained, adding that until now sugar mills have been selling the ash to local MSMEs in the fertilizer sector, but as demand grew, larger players started to take an interest.
Typically, the ashes disposed of by mills are sold individually under a mutually agreed price mechanism depending on the quality of the ash. However, as market demand has increased, the role of the association has become more important.
Potash derived from molasses is a fertilizer which is already listed in Schedule 1 of the Fertilizers Ordinance. However, the product is not widely known.
India imports all of its annual requirement of 5 million metric tons of MoP, with Russia and Belarus accounting for almost 40% of the total. Due to supply disruptions, MoP prices have more than doubled to around $500-600 per ton, compared to imports contracted at $280 per ton through November 2021.
According to an All India Distillers’ Association research paper on potash, India has 285 distilleries that produce 27,000 lakh liters of alcohol annually. Each liter of alcohol produced yields 0.356 kg of potash ash. Accordingly, 27,000 lakh liters of alcohol will yield 9.4 lakh MT of potash ash. Using a minimum of 20% potash in the ash, the total nutrient supply potential of potash is 1.89 lakh MT, which can be used directly for agricultural purposes.