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Fertiliser prices soar due to war in Ukraine 

Wed 23/03/2022 by Richard Wilkinson
Tom Vilsack, United States secretary of agriculture. USDA photo by Tom Witham.
Tom Vilsack, United States secretary of agriculture

The war in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions imposed against Russia have sent fertiliser prices skyrocketing. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of fertiliser. Its exports in 2020 were valued at US$7 billion, just ahead of China, the second-largest exporter ($6.57 billion). Belarus, which is also being sanctioned, accounted for a further $2.91 billion in fertiliser exports.

Fertiliser prices have more than doubled since last year, according to USDA. On March 11, it announced a $250 million grant programme:

“to support independent, innovative and sustainable American fertiliser production to supply American farmers. Recent supply chain disruptions from the global pandemic to Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine have shown just how important it is to invest in this crucial link in the agricultural supply chain here at home,” said agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack.

Although the US is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of fertiliser ($3.56 billion in 2020), behind Canada ($5.16 billion), the US is in fact a net importer. A USDA news release said:

“The United States is a major importer and dependent on foreign fertiliser and is the second or third top importer for each of the three major components of fertiliser.”

These components are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Potash, the raw material for potassium, is a major export of Belarus.

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