Improving fertilizer use to boost yields, supplier tells farmers | News


As the cost of agricultural inputs skyrockets due to the current crisis in Ukraine, a major player recommends that increasing the efficiency of fertilizer use can lead to significant savings for farmers.

Dennis Valdez, managing director of Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited, made the suggestion during a recent Gleaner maintenance. “There are many ways to reduce the impact this situation will have on the farming community. You see, our program, which is what we call an ‘Accurate Nutrient Management System’, basically gives you a nutrition program based on analyzing your soil,” Valdez explained.

This has been implemented across the island as Valdez revealed that in some cases farmers are over-fertilizing their crops, meaning resources are wasted unnecessarily. Thus, he encourages the nearly 220,000 Jamaican farmers to use the services of his company.

“At this time, you don’t want to spend more than you need. We have had many cases where farmers can achieve substantial savings in cost, and at the same time increase in yield when using the nutrition program designed by Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited rather than using the traditional nutrition,” he added.

The cost of a soil test performed by the company is 50 USD. He also shared that farmers who adopt the recommended nutrition plan will see that cost reimbursed in the form of produce or credit.

“I don’t want people to buy more than they need. I want them to buy what they need to expand their business and ultimately they would obviously buy more. But buying what you don’t need is a waste of money,” Valdez said.

SURPRISE FOR FARMERS

These efforts are likely to bring some relief to farmers who continue to feel the pinch in their pockets due to the volatility of farm input prices. Newport Fersan Jamaica controls 85% of the fertilizer market and is the only local manufacturer of inputs.

Russia is the second largest producer of ammonia, urea and potassium, all of which are raw materials in the manufacture of fertilizers. The country represents 23% of the export market for ammonia, 14% for urea and 21% for potassium. However, due to international sanctions, access to these resources can be difficult.

These raw materials are not produced locally and it is for this reason that the manager of the company explained that it is not possible or economically viable to manufacture local alternatives to fertilizers or pesticides.

Valdez shared that based on a weekly fertilizer report, new price records for raw materials have been set. For example, nitrogen increased by US$340 per tonne in Southeast Asia and US$240 per tonne in the Middle East. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, prices were in the range of US$400 per tonne, but now prices fluctuate between US$900 and US$1,000 per tonne.

Even if Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited receives container shipment from Russia, Valdez explained that Russia’s absence from the market will put pressure on the company’s traditional suppliers in Canada, the United States and Trinidad and -Tobago.

“Not having Russia in the market will increase the stress that we see coming from COVID. This will put more pressure on the market…you will have to share a bigger cupcake from fewer sources and this will impact prices globally.

A review is currently underway to determine if prices should be adjusted.

“The company is evaluating the situation very carefully to see what the next move is in terms of price, but at this time we have not made a decision,” Valdez said.

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