Fertilizer industry critical to tackling global food security



The fertilizer industry has a crucial role to play in addressing global food security challenges, as the world’s population continues to expand rapidly, driving demand for nutrition and resource availability, said speakers during the 9th GPCA Fertilizer Convention held on Sept. 18-20 at Kempinski Hotel, Muscat, Oman.

Dr. Fuad Bin Jaafar Bin Mohammed Al-Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Oman, patronized the event and opened the exhibition as part of a special inauguration ceremony in the morning of day one. In line with this year’s theme “New frontiers and opportunities”, the convention highlighted recent developments in the global and regional industry landscape, consolidation within the agri-nutrients business, sustainable agricultural solutions and opportunities for improvement in the fertilizer value chain.

Delivering the welcome address on day one, Eng. Salim Al-Aufi, Undersecretary, Ministry of Oil and Gas, Oman, urged the industry to be ready for the tremendous population growth that is set to occur globally: “We need to be prepared for the challenge that lies ahead of us and ensure that we have enough food for the 10-12 billion people that will be living on this planet in the next 30-40 years to come.

GCC fertilizer exports have reached historical record levels, as rising market protectionism continues to dominate global markets, new figures by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Associations (GPCA), the voice of the chemical industry in the Arabian Gulf, have revealed.

According to figures by GPCA, fertilizer exports from the Arabian Gulf reached 20.4 million tons in 2017, growing by 5.3% year on year, and at a 6% CAGR between 2007-2017. Growth in regional fertilizer trade comes in stark contrast to escalating market tensions and changing trade policies between major economic powers such as the United States, European Union and China.

The GCC fertilizer industry remains heavily export-oriented, shipping its products to 80 countries from across the globe, with India, Brazil and the US revealed as the top three GCC export destinations. Asia accounted for 55% of total exports in 2017, followed by South America (21%), North America (15%), and Africa (7%).

GCC fertilizer production capacity is expected to reach 38.9 million tons in 2018 and an estimated 47 million tons by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 7.7% between 2007-2017. At 46%, Saudi Arabia accounts for almost half of GCC fertilizer production in 2018, followed by Qatar (25%) and Oman (12%), which has increased its share from 11% in 2017.

Sales revenues have also been growing at a CAGR of 5.7% between 2010 and 2017, standing at $5.9 billion in 2017, albeit down from a peak of $7.2 billion in 2014 due to a drop in global fertilizer prices. As a key contributor to socio-economic development in the region, the GCC fertilizer industry accounts for 54,900 direct and indirect jobs, growing at a CAGR of 7.2% over the past decade. In 2017, the industry generated $6.7 billion in indirect economic activity in the region, from support services, to warehousing and distribution, to packaging and others.

Dr. Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA, said: “Despite a continuing rise in global market protectionism, the Arabian Gulf region has enjoyed record high fertilizer exports in 2017, thus, cementing its position as a globally recognized hub for the production and export of fertilizers. To sustain and increase this growth, the industry would need to continue to explore new markets globally, and free trade will play a key role in ensuring its profitability and the sustainable development of the region, to which the industry is an important contributor.”

“We are proud to be holding the GPCA Fertilizer Convention for the first time in the Sultanate of Oman – the third largest producer and exporter of fertilizers in the Arabian Gulf, and one of the fastest growing markets in the region – and look forward to another successful edition with the support of Oman India Fertilizer Company (Omifco), a subsidiary of Oman Oil Company, and the valuable participation of local government officials, industry leaders and international experts.” — SG