The Government, alarmed at the sharp increase in the price of fertilisers to local farmers, is promising to introduce measures shortly to improve the situation.
Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke, speaking yesterday in the House of Representatives, said the situation was under "active" review and promised that "definite measures" would be introduced shortly to address the problem.
The minister observed that the price of imported fertiliser inputs has increased by between 18 and 31 per cent since December 2006. Of even greater concern, he said, was the fact that the price of some local blends had gone up by as much as 70 per cent over the same period.
Demand and supply
The local market situation was being influenced in large measure, he said, by the changed demand and supply scenario in the international market place. He attributed the increased demand for fertilisers internationally to a significant growth in production of corn and other grains for conversion into bio fuels, such as ethanol.
In the United States alone, he said, fertiliser consumption is expected to increase by 15 per cent to 20 per cent this year, in response to an estimated nine-10 million acre expansion in corn production. Similar expansions were expected inBrazil, India, and China, he added.
"Unfortunately, world production of fertiliser has not adjusted at the pace required to address these dramatic increases in grain and corn production. It is expected that this trend will continue into the short and medium term", he said.