Russian ministry recommends suspension of fertilizer exports

Russia could suspend exports of fertilizers, state news agency TASS reported, a move that would take much of the world’s supply off the market.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has recommended suspending fertilizer exports until normal transport services to and from Russia resume, TASS reported on Friday. The ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

Such a move would likely drive up prices and potentially harm farmers worldwide.

Fertilizers such as potash and nitrogen are mostly transported by trains and ships. These movements have been hit since the Russian invasion of Ukraine as foreign shippers avoid the region. For example, several major shipping companies, including the world’s largest container ship operators – AP Moller-Maersk A/S and Mediterranean Shipping Co. – have temporarily suspended their services to Russian ports.

As for fertilizers, “a situation is emerging where farmers in Europe and other countries cannot receive the contracted quantities of fertilizers due to sabotage of shipments by a number of foreign logistics companies,” TASS reported.

According to the US Geological Survey, Russia was responsible for 18% of the potash market in 2017. Along with other fertilizers, it also accounted for 20% of ammonia exports and 15% of urea exports, according to Scotiabank.

The price of fertilizer has already skyrocketed in the past year. For example, the price of anhydrous ammonia, a key fertilizer for corn, hit a record high of $1,492 per tonne last month.

Further price hikes would increase inflationary pressures on farmers, who are already paying significantly higher prices for their fuel, herbicides, seeds and seasonal labor.

–Kirk Maltais contributed to this article.

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