India ramps up fertilizer imports from Canada and Israel as Russian supplies have been disrupted

India is increasing fertilizer imports from countries like Canada and Israel to ensure sufficient supplies for the upcoming summer seeding season after supplies were disrupted by the Russian 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 US$2.7 trillion economy.

“This time we made preparations for Kharif [summer sown crop] Season. We need about 30 million tons of fertilizer and precautions are in place,” Fertilizer Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said Reuterswithout going into detail.

He said India had a comfortable starting stockpile, 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 June monsoon rains.

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

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

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, shipping routes were closed and Western sanctions against Moscow, which described its actions in Ukraine as a “military special operation,” made trade with Russian and Belarusian companies more difficult.

indian potash ltd (IPL) has increased imports from Canada, Israel and Jordan.

It will buy 1.2 million tons of potash from Canada, 6,00,000 tons from Israel and 300,000 tons from Jordan in 2022 to partially replace supplies from Russia and Belarus, numerous sources said.

A senior industry official, who declined to be named, said IPL is trying to ensure “a significant volume of shipments” arrive before June to avoid shortages during the sowing season.

During Mr Mandaviya’s scheduled visit to Moscow later this month, India was close to signing a three-year fertilizer import agreement with Russia. The visit was postponed after the invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24.

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

Traditionally, India has used prices achieved in deals with Belarus and Russia as a benchmark for supplies from other countries. For 2022, Canada has emerged as the price setter, the sources say. IPL is buying potash from companies in Canada and Israel at a price of $590 per tonne on a delivered basis with a six-month loan in 2022. IPL declined comment.

India also relies on Russia and Belarus for complex fertilizers that provide more than one plant nutrient. To make up for lost supplies of nitrogen, phosphate and potash, Indian companies are also increasing supplies from Saudi Arabia and Morocco, the sources said.

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