On the eve of sowing, Russian farmers lack fertilizers

Many producers have already complained to the Ministry of Agriculture that, by the beginning of the sowing campaign, they cannot buy fertilizers due to a shortage in the market.

If you look at some of the numbers, the situation looks sad. For example, in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, the amount of available fertilizers is 25% lower than required, and in the Amur Region, even more so, there is only a third of what is needed for successful spring sowing.

Other regions also faced similar problems: for example, Chelyabinsk, Tula region and Karachay-Cherkessia.

Agricultural producers are unhappy with several things at once:

— Growth in fertilizer prices (from 20 to 40% compared to a year ago).

— The reluctance of suppliers to enter into new contracts, since the manufacturers do not confirm the previous prices.

— Difficulties with delivery: often, with all the desire, it is impossible to ensure that fertilizers are delivered in the next week.

President of the Russian Grain Union Arkady Zlochevsky believes that all this may cause a decrease in the grain harvest in 2021. The Ministry of Agriculture is concerned about this prospect, and the FAS has already been involved to investigate the situation with fertilizers.

How do fertilizer producers explain the situation?

Surprisingly, they are ready to justify themselves on every point.

  1. As for the growth in fertilizer prices, from February 2019 to February 2020, they decreased by 20-40%. So there is no growth: there is a recovery to the previous level.
    The head of the analytical center «Rusagrotrans» Igor Pavensky notes that it is a sin for grain producers themselves to complain: prices for their products soared to record levels last year, so they have nothing to refer to as «empty pockets».
  1. Regarding the deficit — yes, there is one, but the Ministry of Agriculture itself is to blame, which on February 11 unexpectedly increased the volume of applications for fertilizers from 3.8 million to 4.5 million tons.
    Obviously, it is impossible to produce an extra 700 thousand tons in a couple of days, although the producers are doing their best.

The Russian Association of Fertilizer Producers especially notes that problems arose only among those who realized at the last minute: sow tomorrow, but we have not purchased fertilizers. The companies that “prepare sledges in the summer”, everything is fine: under the contracts concluded last year, the deliveries have long been completed.

  1. As for delivery : most fertilizers are produced in the center of Russia. Krasnoyarsk and especially the Amur region are quite far away, which is easy to see with the help of a map.
    It really will not work to instantly transfer fertilizers there, so impatient farmers will have to wait a couple of weeks. And if it is time for someone to sow today or tomorrow, then it was necessary to decide this issue in advance.

In general, the Ministry of Agriculture believes that this is not a very big problem so far, although it needs to be kept under control so that it does not grow. Producers promise that all farmers will receive fertilizers in March.

So the worst thing that can happen is a shift in the beginning of sowing by 1-2 weeks.