March 16, 2022
By Nidhi Verma and Rajendra Jadhav
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India is stepping up imports of fertilizers from countries, including Canada and Israel, to secure sufficient supplies for next summer’s sowing period following the suspension of missions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
India is a leading importer of fertilizers for its vast agricultural sector, which employs about 60% of the country’s workforce and accounts for 15% of the $ 2.7 trillion economy.
“This time we have made preparations in advance for the kharif season (summer sowing). “We need about 30 million tonnes of fertilizer and there are regulations,” Fertilizer Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told Reuters, without elaborating.
He said India would have a comfortable opening stock, about a quarter of the total amount of fertilizer needed for the summer season.
Indian farmers usually start planting crops such as rice, cotton and soybeans when the monsoons arrive in June.
To fertilize crops, India depends on imports for the entire annual consumption of 4 to 5 million tonnes of potash and ships in one third of it from Belarus and Russia.
Inland Belarus uses ports in Russia and Lithuania for its exports.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, shipping lanes were closed and Western sanctions on Moscow, which described its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation,” hampered trade with Russian and Belarusian companies.
Indian Potash Ltd (IPL) increased imports from Canada, Israel and Jordan.
It will buy 1.2 million tonnes of potash from Canada, 600,000 tonnes from Israel and 300,000 from Jordan in 2022 to partially replace supplies from Russia and Belarus, several sources said.
A senior industry official who declined to be named said IPL was trying to ensure that a “significant number of shipments” would arrive before June to avoid any shortages during the sowing season.
India was close to signing a three-year fertilizer import agreement with Russia during Mandaviya’s visit to Moscow scheduled for this month. The visit was postponed after the invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.
One source said India could try to sign the deal again “when the situation improves”.
Traditionally, India has used prices made in agreements with Belarus and Russia as a reference point for supplies from other countries. For 2022, Canada has emerged as the price setter, sources said.
IPL buys potash from companies in Canada and Israel at $ 590 per tonne on a six-month credit basis in 2022. IPL declined to comment.
India also relies on Russia and Belarus for compound fertilizers that provide more than one crop nutrient.
To help replenish lost stocks of nitrogen, phosphates and potash, Indian companies are also increasing supplies from Saudi Arabia and Morocco, sources said.
(Report by Nidhi Verma; edited by Barbara Lewis)
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