Fertilizer to food
Food is the primary factor for survival for all of humanity; however, many countries still face food security issues. According to the 2022 mid-year update of the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), up to 205.1 million people across 45 countries are expected to face acute food insecurity conditions this year. This is nearly double compared to the levels observed in 2016 when the GRFC was first published. Moreover, the worst global food crisis in a decade was one of the top issues discussed at the 12th ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization last month.
FOOD CRISIS LINK TO ENERGY SECTOR
The food supply chain begins at the plantation and the most critical factor, besides water, soil, and solar, is fertilizer. A base material for fertilizer is ammonia which required natural gas to produce. This accounted for 70-80 percent of ammonia production costs. Therefore, the rapid increase in gas prices is therefore reflected onto increased fertilizer prices. These impacts are compounded by rising prices of petroleum products needed to support food harvesting, transporting, and processing.
TACKLING THE CRISIS
Governments should lift trade restrictions or export bans on fertilizers to provide more accessible and affordable fertilizers. Moreover, the liquidity of fertilizer traders should be bolstered to minimize the cost of inventory and transportation management. Additionally, investments in innovation are needed to develop best practices and new technologies that will help increase output per kilogram of fertilizer use and provide alternatives to synthetic fertilizers. More efficient use of fertilizers can help ensure available supplies go further, especially to countries most in need. Another option is to supplement conventional fertilizers with viable bio-fertilizers and practices. This will not only help with the current supply challenges but also reduce the impact of fertilizers on the climate and soil and water resources.
To overcome the food crisis, starting with the roots is needed, but it is also important to recognize that fertilizers represent only one of many factors that influence food crisis all over the world. To successfully tackle a global issue as serious as this, collaboration among all stakeholders is paramount. Ultimately, both deep knowledge and broad cooperation can help us get one step closer to striving for a better world.
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