The Global Fertilizer Supply Chain is committed to delivering plant nutrition products to farmers around the world in these challenging times

19 March 2020

Global fertilizer consumption reached 193 million nutrient tons in 2017. The global fertilizer industry, with a global production revenue of $250 billion in 2018, also provides close to a million direct jobs, some 2.2 million indirect jobs in transport and retail, and a great deal more when considering indirect jobs at the farm level or the wider upstream agri-food supply chain. Its products reach farmers around the world and are estimated to be responsible for some 50% of the total food supply. “Fertilizers are food for crops,” IFA Chairperson Mostafa Terrab emphasizes, “and as such ensure food for people. While the widespread implications of COVID-19 are challenging, all the players in the fertilizer value chain, from producers to traders, distributors and retailers, are committed to doing all they can to ensure an adequate supply of plant nutrition products and to minimizing disruptions to the subsequent movement of fertilizers, while being vigilant to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Since fertilizer products are widely traded, with more than 40% of total production entering trade, it is vital for governments around the world to ensure that trade remains unfettered, in order not to jeopardize the movement of fertilizers just as the planting season gets underway in many regions of the world. The health and safety of workers moving fertilizers must be protected, since the main conduit of the virus is via respiratory droplets released from persons, but it is important to emphasize that coronaviruses do not survive beyond short time periods on surfaces, and that there are no intrinsic dangers linked to COVID-19 when it comes to fertilizers themselves.

“Farmers count on fertilizers to grow productive and nutritious crops,” reiterates Charlotte Hebebrand, IFA Director General, “and given that fertilizer production occurs in regions rich in required feedstocks, trade and distribution represent lifelines to ensure that fertilizers reach their customers around the world.” COVID-19 presents a great deal of challenges to governments and citizens around the world, in the midst of which, it will be important to ensure a sound trade and distribution system for plant nutrition products to ensure productive agricultural systems, food security, and livelihoods of farmers around the world.