Fertilizer deficit looming in autumn, Latvian farmers say

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The war in Ukraine and Russia and Belarus broke down existing fertilizer supply chains. Farmers agree that cooperation with the aggressor should be stopped, but urge the Agriculture Ministry to seek new routes, Latvian Television reported March 21.

Last week, the Minister for Agriculture said that there is enough fertilizer for this year, adding that the challenge in the fertilizer market could serve as an additional incentive to work more ecologically. 

Farmers say a biological direction will make food even more expensive. “At the moment, conventional grain costs a crazy price, then biological will be even more expensive. And who can afford to buy it? The next thing – how much will we produce in this way? At the moment, we are seeing the international situation, clearly, that food will be lacking. And biological direction does not solve this issue,“ said Edgars Bodnieks, managing director of Balticagrar.

Conventional farmers are concerned that instead of solutions, the minister is trying to ignore the increasingly threatening problems for fertilizer supplies. “The farmers were very outraged by the minister's point of view. I hadn't received so many calls long ago. The Minister may not have been informed about the real situation, said Juris Lazdiņš, Chairman of the Board of the Farmers' Saeima.

According to Bodnieks, the real situation is that the fertilizer provision is 90% for the summer season. The situation looks even more uncertain in the autumn when potassium and phosphorus are needed for soil enrichment. They have so far been imported from Belarus and Russia. 

“The largest producer of potassium raw materials is Canada. New delivery routes need to be established again to bring it in. Phosphorus – there are even more problems with it. Phosphorus content in Latvian soil are the smallest. We cannot restore phosphorus in a natural way, either organic fertilizer or mineral fertilizer... [coming from] Morocco,” said Lazdiņš.

However, Moroccan phosphorus does not meet European standards. Farmers, therefore, expect Gerhards, who is on the European Council of Agriculture Ministers in Brussels this week, to seek a solution to the fertilizer supply problem.

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