14 Mar 2019 16:07

AgMin head requests that FAS evaluate mineral fertilizer price trends

MOSCOW. March 14 (Interfax) - Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev has asked that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev give instructions for the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) to evaluate mineral fertilizer price trends.

"If possible, I would like to ask that instructions be given to the FAS to direct its attention to the matter of keeping prices in check, as the volume of mineral fertilizer consumed domestically is no more than 20% of the total produced. As such, production volumes of fertilizer within the country make it possible to maintain prices for them at levels acceptable for domestic farmers," Patrushev said at a government meeting on Thursday.

"Let's assemble the fertilizer producers and listen to what they have to tell us regarding rising prices," Medvedev said.

There had been "price turbulence" on the fertilizer market at the beginning of the year, the agriculture minister said.

"Certain difficulties have been caused by price growth for fertilizers. To resolve the situation, the Russian Agriculture Ministry held meetings with fertilizer producers and the sector's association in August and October 2018 and an agreement was signed to stabilize prices. But 2019 again began with price turbulence on the fertilizer market, and in some cases these rose up to 14%," he said.

"We [at the AgMin] estimate farmers need 3.1 million tonnes of fertilizers in active ingredient. Right now, given stocks carried over from 2018, they have around 1.1 million tonnes, which is 90,000 tonnes more than last year. We expect them to spread as much fertilizer this year as they did last year," Patrushev said.

"Last year, an agreement was signed for this year between the Agroindustrial Union and the Association of Mineral Fertilizer Producers and this has happened each year since 2018," Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said at the meeting, echoing what Patrushev said during his speech. "Viktor Zubkov launched this tradition," he said.

"As regards price growth, I'll give some figures for January compared with December 2018: price growth for ammonium nitrate - 3%, urea - 0%, ammophos - minus 3%, potassium chloride - 13%. They have gone up 3%. Potassium chloride fell 24% in August. Separate work was carried out for all positions without exception, this was confirmed by the FAS and [Deputy Prime Minister] Alexei Gordeyev gave such an instruction in January," Manturov said.

He said prices for the main fertilizers were 6%-26% below export prices, as per the agreement to which Patrushev referred.

Manturov's position only reinforced Medvedev's opinion about the need for a meeting with fertilizer producers.

"Since there's a difference in the figures that's all the more reason to bring them all to me and well check everything really is fine, or whether there are the problems the AgMin is talking about," he said.

At the meeting hosted by the Russian Agriculture Ministry in August 2018, fertilizer producers made voluntary commitments to rein in prices for the autumn sowing period, until November 15. The head of PhosAgro , UralChem, EuroChem and Acron took part.

This was not the first time prices had been regulated: the Agroindustrial Union and the Association of Mineral Fertilizer Producers signed an agreement in February 2016 to cap price growth on the domestic market at 5% a month during the sowing campaign and preparations for it.