Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Perú suffers from a shortage of fertilizers as a result of the war in Ukraine. Corn and rice farmers fear an alarming drop in their harvests, without the supply of the key agricultural supplement in the western region of Portuguesa, known as the breadbasket of Venezuela.

Consequences 10,000 kilometers away

The consequences of the war in Ukraine are being felt 10,000 kilometers away… 80% of the fertilizers used annually in countries like Venezuela are imported, mainly from Russia, but also from Ukraine and Belarus.

Celso Fantinel is the president of the Confederation of Associations of Agricultural Producers of Venezuela (FEDEAGRO):

“All the countries of the world will be affected in terms of the production of wheat, sunflower oil, yellow corn, soybeans, fertilizers, because Russia, Ukraine, Belarus is an important axis of fertilizer production for the world. Here in Venezuela, As agriculture is now, we need around 150,000 to 180,000 tons (of fertilizer) and what came around, among the inventories we have, we are talking about 100,000 tons.”

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The race to find fertilizer for crops

With the rainy season comes the time to plant corn, a staple food in this South American country, known for its traditional arepas. Here, as in much of Latin America, a race begins to find fertilizer for crops.

Ramón Bolotín, president of the Association of Independent Producers (PAI), explains it this way:

“Agriculture in Venezuela has fallen, but very deeply. We are barely producing at 30% of our capacity. We are going to work with the fertilizer we have, we already know that it is not enough. In some parts sub-doses are going to be used, that is serious because it affects not only the yield, but also the profitability of the farmers.”

One more headache in a country that already suffers from fuel shortages. Western sanctions against Russia and Belarus, as well as Ukraine’s difficulties in exporting, have led to unprecedented fertilizer shortages. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of fertilizers, with more than 12 percent of the global market, but its sales have been virtually paralyzed by sanctions.

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An unprecedented shortage of fertilizers

Osman Quero is a director of the Association of Independent Producers (PAI):

“For example, in Portuguesa, here where we are, some 270,000 hectares were planted, last year only 90,000 hectares (of corn) were planted. And that lies mainly in the ability to receive the fertilizer, which is no longer available in Venezuela and having to import it with their own resources”.

All of Latin America faces this problem, especially the agricultural giants: Brazil and Argentina, but also to a greater or lesser extent, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. Alternatives are sought to produce tons of fertilizers. In the Turén region they have two of the fundamental ingredients, nitrogen and phosphorus, and they would only have to import potassium chloride.