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https://www.wsj.com/articles/farms-are-failing-as-fertilizer..."""Christina Ribeiro do Valle, who comes from a long line of coffee growers in Brazil, is this year paying three times what she paid last year for the fertilizer she needs. Coupled with a recent drought that hit her crop hard, it means Ms. do Valle, 75, will produce a fraction of her Ribeiro do Valle brand of coffee, some of which is exported.There is also a shortage of fertilizer. “This year, you pay, then put your name on a waiting list, and the supplier delivers it when he has it,” she said.The coffee beans won’t develop as they should for lack of fertilizer, she said—not just this year but also in 2023. “It’s like a child that’s malnourished,” she said.Farmers in the U.S. are also feeling the pinch, with some shifting their planting plans. But the impact is expected to be worse in developing countries where smallholders have limited access to bank loans and can’t pay up front for expensive fertilizer.Fertilizer demand in sub-Saharan Africa could fall 30% in 2022, according to the International Fertilizer Development Center, a global nonprofit organization. That would translate to 30 million metric tons less food produced, which the center says is equivalent to the food needs of 100 million people.Lower fertilizer use will inevitably weigh on food production and quality, affecting food availability, rural incomes and the livelihoods of the poor,” said Josef Schmidhuber, deputy director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s trade and markets division.As the pandemic enters year three, more households are having to cut down on the quantity and quality of food they consume, the World Bank said in a note last month, noting that high fertilizer prices were adding to costs. Around 2.4 billion people lacked access to adequate food in 2020, up 320 million from the year before, it said. Inflation rose in about 80% of emerging-market economies last year, with roughly a third seeing double-digit food inflation, according to the World Bank.Diammonium phosphate, or DAP, a commonly used phosphate fertilizer, cost $745 per metric ton in December—more than double its 2020 average price. December prices for Eastern European urea, a widely exported nitrogen fertilizer, were nearly four times the 2020 average.The price-increases stem partly from global energy costs, with the average natural-gas price in Europe for the October-December quarter 10 times as much as that for the year of 2020, according to World Bank data. Nitrogen production facilities rely heavily on natural gas to convert chemical raw materials into finished products, so rises in the natural-gas price often flow through into fertilizer costs. Major fertilizer producers including China, Turkey, Egypt and Russia also curbed exports in the second half of 2021, further pushing up global prices.A more recent factor is European Union and U.S. sanctions on Belarus, a major exporter of potash, which is a key ingredient of mineral fertilizers. Norway-based Yara International ASA, one of the world’s largest fertilizer makers, said this month it would wind down its sourcing of Belarusian potash by April.“Belarus represents 20% of the global production of potash so clearly they are a significant supplier,” said Chief Executive Svein Tore Holsether in an interview. “If that part doesn’t make it out of Belarus then I don’t see anyone ready to turn up the volumes,” he said.Tony Will, chief executive of CF Industries Holdings Inc., a leading nitrogen fertilizer manufacturer based in Deerfield, Ill., said he expected lower fertilization levels this year to result in reduced agricultural yields. The company has only reopened one of the two U.K. plants it closed in September, citing high natural-gas prices and low availability of truck drivers. Plants in North America, where gas prices are lower, are running at maximum capacity, Mr. Will said.Industry experts say European production is likely to be constrained as long as natural-gas prices remain high there, with shortages in parts of the developing world amplified by trade restrictions in other major fertilizer exporters.On Indonesia’s Sumatra island, coconut grower Burhanuddin Rafik is seeking out alternatives to fertilizer. He says farmers in his area have resorted to using monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a flavor enhancer that contains high levels of nitrogen and is used in local dishes. He and others are also trying organic methods, like spreading ash and plant debris on their crops.‘When I tell them the price of seeds is $3 per kilogram, they start to cry.’— Faustin Lohouri Bi Tra, who grows corn, rice and soy seeds for other farmers in Ivory CoastFaustin Lohouri Bi Tra, who grows corn, rice and soy seeds for other farmers on a 500-acre plantation in Ivory Coast, said if fertilizer prices remain high into April, he might have to slash his own planting by half or more. He can only raise prices so much before his seeds become too expensive for local farmers. “When I tell them the price of seeds is $3 per kilogram, they start to cry,” he said.In an oven-hot, largely flat corner of southern Colombia, Marcos Baquero, 48, said high fertilizer costs were prompting him to try to figure out how to coax a bigger yield from his small farm.“Farmers need to produce 50% more than they produced before,” said Mr. Baquero, though he said he believed that many would simply give up on farming.While he usually gets 35 tons of watermelon a hectare, he now wants to see if he can produce 40 tons. As for corn, he would like to increase the yield from the 6 tons to 10 tons he now produces to as much as 20 tons a hectare.“This is very painful for us farmers,” he said, “and it’s getting very difficult to work.*****And Jerry Mathers, as the Beaver******
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