Fertilizer in India: India increases fertilizer imports from Canada and Israel as Russian supply disrupted

India is increasing its imports of fertilizers from countries like Canada and Israel to ensure sufficient supplies for the upcoming summer planting season after the disruption of shipments caused by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

India is a major importer of fertilizers for its huge agricultural sector, which employs around 60% of the country’s workforce and accounts for 15% of the $2.7 trillion economy.

“This time we have prepared for the kharif (summer crop) season in advance. We need around 30 million tons of fertilizer and arrangements are in place,” said the minister of fertilizer, Mansukh Mandaviya, without giving further details.

He said India will 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 with the arrival of monsoon rains in June.

To fertilize crops, India depends on imports for all of its annual consumption of 4 to 5 million tonnes of potash and ships a third of it from Belarus and Russia.

Landlocked Belarus uses ports in Russia and Lithuania for its exports.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, shipping routes were closed and Western sanctions against Moscow, which called its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation”, made it difficult to trade with Russian companies and Belarusians.

Indian Potash Ltd (IPL) increased its 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, multiple sources said.

A senior industry official who declined to be named said IPL was trying to ensure “a substantial amount of shipments” arrive before June to avoid any shortages during the planting season.

India was set to sign a three-year fertilizer import deal with Russia during Mandaviya’s visit to Moscow scheduled for this month. The visit was postponed following the invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.

One of the sources said India may try again to sign the deal “when the situation improves”.

Traditionally, India has used the prices agreed in the agreements with Belarus and Russia as a benchmark for supplies from other countries. For 2022, Canada has emerged as a price-maker, the sources said.

IPL buys potash from companies in Canada and Israel at $590 per tonne on a delivered basis on six-month credit in 2022. IPL declined to comment.

India also depends on Russia and Belarus for complex fertilizers which provide more than one nutrient for crops.

To help make up for any lost nitrogen, phosphate and potash supplies, Indian companies are also increasing supplies from Saudi Arabia and Morocco, the sources said.

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