UN pushes for lower global fertiliser prices

The aim is to avoid a 'future crisis' of availability
calendar icon 6 October 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

The United Nations is pushing to cut the price of fertilisers to avoid a "future crisis" of availability, said a senior UN trade official who is involved in talks aimed at boosting the export of Russian fertilisers, including ammonia, reported Reuters.

Russia's war in Ukraine has fuelled a global food crisis and soaring fertiliser prices, according to the United Nations. Russia and Ukraine are key global exporters of grain, while Russia is also one of the largest exporters of fertilisers.

"If we are not able to bring fertiliser prices down, the crisis of affordability that we have today will be a crisis of availability tomorrow, and that is what we are working on right now," said Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

"To avert a future crisis we need to bring fertiliser prices down," she told reporters in Geneva.

Russia is one of the world's largest suppliers of potash, phosphate and nitrogen fertilisers - key crop and soil nutrients - producing 13% of the global total. Fertiliser exports from Russia fell by 7% in the first half of 2022.

Facilitating Russia's food and fertiliser exports is a central aspect of a package deal brokered by the UN and Turkey on July 22 that also restarted Ukraine's Black Sea grain and fertiliser shipments. Russia has criticised the deal, complaining that its exports were still hindered.

The deal included ammonia - a key ingredient in nitrate fertiliser. A pipeline transporting ammonia from Russia's Volga region to Ukraine's Black Sea port of Pivdennyi (Yuzhny) was shut down when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The UN is now trying to broker a resumption of those ammonia exports.

But since talks started, Russia has moved to annex Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions after holding what it called referendums – votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.

Grynspan declined to comment on the ammonia negotiations, describing the situation to Reuters as "too sensitive." She added that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had tried to call her while she was in the news conference.

"We need to get it right and bring prices down," she said.

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