Monday, October 16, 2023

NYT: "How a Fertilizer Shortage Is Spreading Desperate Hunger"

Via the New York Times, an absolutely fascinating, yet devastating, look how the supply chains of fertilizers is hammering farmers in Africa: 

...Inorganic fertilizer is a global enterprise, one dominated by producers in the United States, China, India, Russia, Canada and Morocco. Nigeria has several fertilizer factories that produce varieties of nitrogen fertilizer, but they export nearly everything to South America. As a result, the country is vulnerable to any break in the global supply chain.

The pandemic delivered a colossal blow.

When making and blending fertilizer, Nigeria imports phosphates mined in Morocco, shipping them to the port of Lagos. Over the first two months of the pandemic, as commercial activity froze, shipping companies reduced their ports of call in sub-Saharan Africa by roughly one-fifth, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Then, as regular shipping schedules resumed, Lagos was overwhelmed by a cargo backlog. Seeking easier passage, fertilizer manufacturers diverted shipments to Port Harcourt, about 370 miles down the coast. But rampant piracy in the area entailed higher costs for insurance and freight.

In March 2021, a massive container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, closing that artery of trade and sending global shipping prices skyward. The cost of phosphates from Morocco delivered to Nigeria grew to more than $1,000 per ton, from $300 to $400.

“You had all those problems compounding supply,” said Gideon Negedu, executive secretary of the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria.

Then, just as supply was recovering, Russia invaded Ukraine.

It's quite a long article, but still worth the read. 

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looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20