For­mula for Bet­ter Soil Fer­til­ity

Be­larus sup­plies fer­til­iz­ers to al­most 100 coun­tries

Economy of Belarus - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Mar­ket Niche

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.

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