Formula for Better Soil Fertility
Belarus supplies fertilizers to almost 100 countries
Belarus’ major producers include Belaruskali, Gomel Chemical Plant and Grodno Azot which are ISO 9001 certified
In the face of a rapidly growing global population, food security is getting to the forefront of the concerns of the international community. A rich harvest, in turn, is impossible without fertilizing soil with nutrients. Therefore, the production of fertilizers is turning into one of the most promising industries and an important export item today. In Belarus there are three large enterprises that produce virtually the entire range of mineral fertilizers. The country is among the global industry leaders accounting for one seventh of the world’s potash fertilizers. However, recently the Belarusian companies have had to make more efforts to hold their share in foreign markets. How are things on the domestic fertilizers market now? What challenges do the producers face in external markets? Catering to All Tastes
Belarus can rightly be called a mineral fertilizers power house. The country has managed to preserve and build on the legacy left over from Soviet times. Today this industry manufactures highquality products corresponding to the world standards and sells them domestically and internationally: Asia, Latin America, the United States and Europe. Belarus’ major producers include Belaruskali, Gomel Chemical Plant and Grodno Azot which have been certified in compliance with the international quality standards ISO 9001.
Belaruskali is a “blue chip” of Belarus and is known far beyond its bounds. The company produces 12.6 million tonnes of potassium a year, which makes it one of the largest producers in the world. The company operates four mines, auxiliary shops and service departments. In 2013 Belaruskali launched a workshop to manufacture compound NPK fertilizers. In 2014 the company completed the construction of a chemical plant for complex and advanced processing of chlorine mineral product and laid the symbolic foundation stone for the Petrikov mining and refining plant which will help Belaruskali ramp up the production.
Belaruskali produces potash fertilizers, dry blended NPK fertilizers and compound granular NPK fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium in one granule). The product portfolio includes more than 20 certified types.
“Thanks to a wide range of major nutrients in Belaruskali’s compound fertilizers we can satisfy any needs of farmers. The fertilizer may also include micronutrients: boron, zinc, copper, manganese and others,” the company’s specialists said.
Gomel Chemical Plant manufactures NPK fertilizers, ammoniated superphosphate, and ammophos. The range of NPK fertilizers includes over 25 grades. Thus, a compound fertilizer can be custom-mixed, taking into account the type of soil and crops, by adding micronutrients and by changing the assortment and quantity of macronutrients. Ammoniated superphosphate (over 20 grades) is a concentrated granular fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur in an immediately available form. High-performance nitrogen-phosphorus fertilizer ammophos (over 20 grades) may contain micronutrients such as copper, zinc, boron, manganese, molybdenum, cobalt.
Gomel Chemical Plant also manufactures dry blends – dry granulated mineral fertilizers, with ammoniated superphosphate, ammophos, potassium chloride and carbamide as the main components. Macro- and micronutrients can be optionally added to the mixtures. Combining dry blends, customers can choose the best option for all types of soil and crops.
“Dry blends are one of the most cost-effective mineral fertilizers. They are the best choice for a wide range of soil types to get a good harvest of a particular crop in a particular field,” representatives of the Gomel Chemical Plant explained. “Such an individual approach provides better crop quality and yield.”
Grodno Azot specializes in the production of nitrogen fertilizers. These are urea, UAN solutions and ammonium sulphate. The
Grodno-based company offers urea fertilizers as prills or as granules. Prills are used as feedstock in the production of tars and glues, and also as a mineral nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture. Granulated urea is applied as raw material in the production of plastic mass, and also in oil and woodworking industries. In agriculture it is used as a straight nitrogen fertilizer or as part of dry blended NPK fertilizers. UAN fertilizers are used as plant food on any types of open and protected soil. Ammonium sulphate (in the form of crystals) is applied in agriculture as a nitrogen fertilizer, and is also used in leather, food and pharmaceutical industries.
Today Belarus produces a wide range of mineral fertilizers designed to meet national and international quality standards. The corresponding certificates and prestigious international awards testify to the fact. For example, Belaruskali received the International Quality Summit award in the platinum category for quality and overall excellence. Belaruskali fertilizers are as good as products manufactured by its main competitors from Canada, Germany, Israel and Russia.
The company does its best to remain at the forefront in improving the quality and the range of compound fertilizers, developing products containing the amount of nutrients consumers need. The application of nutrients improves seed viability, plant resistance to diseases and climatic fluctuations.
Meeting the needs of domestic agricultural companies remains number one priority for Belarusian fertilizer producers. Fertilizer supply plans are compiled on an annual basis.
In 2015 Grodno Azot and Gomel Chemical Plant supplied the domestic market with 330,800 tonnes and nearly 82,000 tonnes of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers respectively. This is half of the output of the two companies.
The rest is exports that bring solid currency returns to the country. Belaruskali and Gomel Chemical Plant are among Belarus’ top exporters. Belarusian fertilizers are sold to almost 100 countries: to the markets of Asia, Latin America, the United States, Eastern and Western Europe.
Last year Belaruskali sold 9.2 million tonnes of potassium chloride abroad, which is slightly less than in 2014 (97.3%). According to the data of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), global potash export dropped by 5.7% to 47.6 million tonnes in 2015. Despite the downturn on the global market, Belaruskali increased its share in the global export to a record high of 19.3% as against 18.8% in 2014.
Asia and Latin America are Belarus’ main export markets. In 2015 Belarus sold 5.5 million tonnes of fertilizers to the Asian region, with China accounting for 26% of the total, India 10.7%, Indonesia 6.3%, Malaysia 4.4%, and Vietnam 3.2%. Belarus sold 1.9 million tonnes of fertilizers to Latin America, with Brazil accounting for 17.7%, Venezuela 0.7%, and Paraguay 0.06%. Last year Belarus shipped 1.1 million tonnes of potash fertilizers to Europe, including Norway (4% of the total), Belgium (2.7%), Poland (1.1%), and Sweden (1%).
In 2014 Belaruskali resumed shipments of potassium chloride to the United States which is one of the biggest markets in the world. A total of 145,100 tonnes
of fertilizers was exported to the U.S. in 2015. Last year the company also started selling its products to Georgia, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Fiji, the Central African Republic, and Ethiopia.
Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, and African countries were the key markets for phosphorous fertilizers manufactured by Gomel Chemical Plant in 2015. This year the company continues exporting its products to Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland and Latvia. Besides, it has managed to resume the export of NPK fertilizers to Russia. In January-March 2016, Grodno Azot started shipments of carbamide to Algeria, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone and ammonium sulfate to Kenya and Colombia. All in all, in 2015 the enterprise exported its products to 35 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Moldova and Hungary.
Experts point out that Belarusian fertilizer companies are facing stiff competition, which is largely a result of the decline in the demand and prices on the global market of mineral fertilizers. The prices hit their lowest in 2015 when they dropped by roughly a quarter compared to 2013-2014.