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An unrivalled ascendancy

Summary

The Middle East is establishing an unrivalled ascendancy in supplying international markets for nitrogen fertilizers. The region is richly endowed with hydrocarbon and gas reserves, which are being converted into low-cost petrochemical and fertilizer products. The auguries are highly favourable for the Middle Eastern fertilizer producers to become the powerhouse of the world's industry.

Abstract

Fertilizer markets during the past 30 years have been marked by the steady shift towards the production of intermediates and basic fertilizers in countries with plentiful and cheap supplies of the basic raw materials - natural gas, phosphate rock and potash ores emphasising the growing ascendancy of the Arab producers in global fertilizer markets.

World fertilizer consumption is estimated to have totalled 139.9 million tonnes nutrient in 1999/2000, made up ofthe primary nutrients ofnitrogen (61% of the total), phosphorus (23%) and potassium (16%). Over the next five years, IFA forecasts that global fertilizer consumption will increase by 12% to 156.7 million tonnes nutrient by 2004/05. Consumption of nitrogen fertilizers is forecast to rise by a similar percentage, from 84.94 million tonnes N in 1999/2000 to 93.92 million tonnes N in 2004/05. TheArab countries are well represented in supplying all the primary nutrient sectors, but they enjoy an almost unassailable strength in the predominant nitrogen sector. The next five years - and beyond - thus promise to be boom years for the Arab nitrogen fertilizer industry as it consolidates its already strong competitive advantages.

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Zen-Noh adjusts to changing agricultural fortunes

Summary

Small-scale family units specialising in rice cultivation have for long characterised agriculture in japan. The japanese government also provided this sector with a high degree of protection from imports by imposing high tariff barriers. Within the past decade, under the impetus of international free trade agreements, japanese agriculture has had to adapt to new conditions as the domestic market was opened up to competition. This has impacted on Zen- Noh, the central purchasing co-operative which supplies most of the inputs to japanese farmers. David Hayes describes how Zen-Noh is coping.

Abstract

Japan's National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations (Zen-Noh) is one of the largest agricultural co-operative fede~ations in the world. Most of Japan's 4.7 million farming households belong to one ofZenNoh's 1,410 primary co-operatives, making the federation one ofthe nation's most important organisations through its involvement in providing a wide range of important services to the agricultural industry and farming community.

Zen-Noh serves its member farmers by purchasing and distributing materials and equipment for agricultural production in co-operation with Japan's prefectural federations and primary-level farmer co-operatives, alongwith the basic necessities of daily household farm life. In addition, Zen-Noh is involved in the collection, distribution and marketing of agricultural products on behalfoffarmer members, which the federation handles through its own channels. Lacking indigenous resources, Japan has traditionally relied heavily on overseas sources of raw materials. Zen-Noh imports a wide variety of materials used in agricultural production, including fertilizers, feedstuffs, LPG gas and oil, providing farmers with supplies at a reasonable pnce.

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Zeeland Seaports - on the A-list

Summary

In a characteristically quiet but determined way, the Zeeland Seaports ofViissingen and Terneuzen have built up major tranches of what can be described as niche business. As the nearby ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp reach saturation points, the Zeeland ports are poised to expand further. Fertilizers playa key part in their future too.

Abstract

The competition for business among the ports in north west Europe has become increasingly intense in recent years. The ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp rank amongst the top in the world for throughput handled, and they have enjoyed considerable success in establishing dedicated terminals for coal, oil, chemicals and containers. Faced with such competition, the nearby Zeeland ports of Vlissingen and Terneuzen, which straddle the River Scheldt, have pursued a different strategy, capturing important niche market traffic. Together, Vlissingen and Terneuzen represent the third-largest seaport in the Netherlands, enjoying a combined annual throughput of around 26 million tonnes.

Vlissingen and T erneuzen have combined to exploit their natural synergies through the Zeeland Seaports authority, and they are now making a strong pitch to move from niche to mainstream ports. The bonds between the two ports will be strengthened at the end of 2003, when the new road tunnel under the Scheldt will be opened. The ports will then be a few minutes' drive apart, enabling Vlissingen and T erneuzen to offer customers an integrated cargo handling and distribution service to all destinations.

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KEFCO inauguration heralds "New Kernira"

Summary

Kemira Emirates Fertiliser Co. (KEFCO) opened a new plant for the production of urea phosphate at Jebel Ali, Dubai. This is the world's largest urea phosphate plant, and is a major achievement for the JV between Kemira Agro and its UAE partners. The event is also of great significance as Kemira Agro repositions itself as a leading supplier of speciality fertilizers.

Abstract

T he inauguration of the KEFCO 30,000 tla urea phosphate plant at Jebel Ali, Dubai, on 11 March marks a significant advance in Kemira Agro's strategy to transform itself into a world ranking supplier of speciality fertilizers, in conjunction with local partners. Kemira Emirates Fertiliser Co. (KEFCO) is a joint venture between Kemira Agro Oyj (30% stake), Emirates Investment & Development - formerly Emirates Food (50%) - and Union Kemira (20%). The latter company is a Dubai-based JV between Kemira and Union Agriculture, producing up to 15,000 tla NPKs at Jebel Ali.

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The pace accelerates in Oman

Summary

For several years, Oman has been looking for ways of adding value to its oil and gas reserves. Several projects have been mooted to develop joint-venture ammonia and urea production facilities, but progress has been slow. Now, an indigenous project has been proposed, while difficulties besetting one of the earlier projects appear to have been resolved.

Abstract

W ith relatively small oil reserves, the main importance of0 man in the region was for long primarily its strategic location overlooking the Strait of Hormuz. However, Oman has pursued an oil and gas exploration programme which has doubled the country's natural gas reserves, promising to make the country a more significant supplier of energy. In common with other Arab Gulf countries, Oman is keen to add value to these gas reserves and reduce its dependence on oil.

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Choppy waters for the US industry

Summary

Having faced a turbulent year in 2000, marked by a glut of product and weak prices in international markets, the US phosphate industry is buckling up for further turbulence this year. While the prospects for domestic sales are encouraging, the leading US phosphate suppliers are bracing themselves for continuing weak demand from their principal offshore customers, China and India. Likewise, they face increased competition for market share in other countries.

Abstract

The year 2000 was not a vintage one for the US phosphate industry. Phosphate rock production in Florida and North Carolina totalled 39.16 million tonnes, the lowest level since 1993, and 4% down on the previous year's total of 40.87 million tonnes. Likewise, US production of phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilizers was down last year, by 8% in the case of phosphoric acid and 20% for DAP. By contrast, production ofMAP rose by 20%, from 1.84 million tonnes P205 to 2.22 million tonnes, while TSP gained ground, posting a 5% increase in production from 495,000 tonnes P20 5 in 1999 to 519,000 tonnes. The past year was marked by wholesale plant closures, and an estimated 25% ofUS DAP/MAP capacity had been idled by the end of2000. Further closures followed in the new year.

This disappointing performance was entirely due to the downturn in exports. The domestic market, by contrast, remained reasonably firm, boosted by the increased subsidies given to US farmers. According to IFA, deliveries to the home market were up by 0.9% for DAP and just over 10% for MAP, to a record 1.1 million tonnes P205' TSP deliveries were also strongly up, by 9% to 270,000 tonnes P2O5.

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Optimising nutrient status and yield formation

Summary

As described here by K. Orlovius, Agricultural Advisory Division, Kali und Salz GmbH, Kassel, foliar fertilisation offers a fast and effective correction to nutrient deficiencies in growing crops. Kali und Salz has gone one step further, having developed the speciality fertilizer, Bittersalz microtop, offering four nutrients in one package, and which is ideal for foliar applications.

Abstract

Foliar spraying with fertilizer solutions has proved to be an effective means of overcoming nutrient limitations while satisfying the high shortterm nutrient demands of crops. Even in situations of adequate soil fertility, the nutrient supply to the plant via the soil/root system interface can sometimes be insufficient for optimum production at critical periods. This can be a result of either temporary unavailability of soil nutrients, or a reduction in nutrient uptake by the roots due to the transition from the vegetative to reproductive and storage phases. The major advantage of foliar fertilisation lies in its ability to offer fast and effective correction of nutrient deficiencies in actively growing crops.

Where the nutrient uptake from the soil is hindered because of drought, cold, non-adapted pH values, and/or oxygen deficiency in the rooting zone (excessive wetness), yield responses and quality improvements can be achieved through foliar fertilisation. These are the reasons for the increasing use of foliar feeding in European agriculture and horticulture.

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Intertrade - blazing the trail for Brazil's farmers

Summary

The Brazilian company, Intertrade, celebrates 36 years as a leading importer of fertilizers. The company has made a significant contribution to the modernisation of the country's agriculture, notably through the promotion of the use of unground natural phosphate rock, as described below.

Abstract

The story of Intertrade SA dovetails neatly with the history Brazil's agricultural transformation. Heinz Huyer set up the company in January 1965 in Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande do SuI state, the most southerly in Brazil. It was in that period that intensive cultivation of soyabeans first began. Soyabeans have a major requirement for fertilizers, and the resulting demand for fertilizers paved the way for large-scale imports. Heinz Huyer brought considerable entrepreneurial and commerce experience, which he gained when working in the marketing sections of various North American multinationals. Two years before founding Intertrade, he set up and launched operations at the largest industrial consortium of that period, Sulbase (Consorcio Brasileiro de Industrias de Base). This comprised seven companies in the heavy industrial sector, which moved quickly off the mark by winning international tenders worth $100 million for the construction of hydro- and thermal electrical plants, refineries, and so on.

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