Brazil's Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Reinhold Stephanes, is planning an international delegation in November to seek fertilizer suppliers for Brazil. Countries like Russia and Egypt may be included in the route, said the Foreign Relations secretary at the ministry, Célio Porto.
Promotion of the mission was defined in a meeting between representatives of the ministry, cooperatives and farmers at the end of August. The government plans to help farmers in one of the problems they are currently facing in cultivation: the high cost of fertilizers.
According to Porto, while prices of some agricultural products have doubled over the last twelve months, the price of fertilizers has grown five times. And as the Brazilian market in the area is practically dominated by three large groups, the idea is to take to countries that are suppliers a group of representatives of producers to make direct purchases.
Within the coming month, a new meeting should take place for definition of the countries to be visited in the mission. According to Porto, consensus has already been reached, however, with regard to visiting countries that produce fertilizers and that are not yet great suppliers to Brazil.
Among them Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, mainly in the areas of phosphates and potassium, as well as Iran and Saudi Arabia, in the area of nitrogenated fertilizers. Russia and Belarus are also included in the list.
It is probable that the mission should visit Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Russia and Belarus, according to secretary Porto. Among the items taken into consideration, according to Porto, are logistics, including countries to which Brazil supplies grain and from which ships return empty, space that could be used for the transport of fertilizers.
Those included in the project and who should participate in the delegation include representatives of consortia, cooperatives, associations and organizations in the areas of soy, fertilizer, sugarcane, rice, barley, tobacco and agriculture as a whole. Among them are the São Paulo Sugarcane Agroindustry Union (Unica), the Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives (OCB), the Soybean Producers Association of Mato Grosso (Aprosoja) and the National Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA).
Morocco should not be visited by the delegation, as it is already a great supplier of fertilizers. Other Arab countries also export the product to Brazil, but at lower proportions. In the case of natural unground phosphates, in 2006, Morocco was the largest phosphate supplier to Brazil, followed by Algeria. In terms of natural ground phosphates, Algeria was the first and Tunisia the second.
The great increase in fertilizer prices has taken place mainly due to defensive actions adopted by some countries, which, concerned with food supply, decided to increase their productivity using greater volumes of the product.
Brazil is, according to Porto, among the main soy producers in the world, the country that depends most on fertilizers – due to the characteristics of the land – and also the most dependant on imported fertilizers. The country imports 70% of all the fertilizers it consumes. In the case of phosphates, the percentage rises to 90%.