Argentina traders fret over low ferts demand

23 October 2008 17:38  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--Argentine fertilizer traders are lamenting the lack of interest in phosphate fertilizer imports and blame the government for a host of agricultural policies that have left farmers bewildered and facing an uncertain future, sources said on Thursday.

“We have a government that every farmer dislikes,” said one importer. “It has no policies or goals, and the consequence is that farmers don’t know what the price of their crop product will be,” he added.

The Argentine government announced in March a 44% export tax on soybeans, which suppressed demand for imported fertilizers.

This led to a number of farmer protests across the country, which ultimately forced the government to rethink its policy.

However, the fertilizer market was “completely dead with no bids or offers”, according to the trader.

“Normally I get regular insults from farmers because I don’t have enough product for them [to apply],” said the trader. “But this time it’s too quiet.”

Despite plenty of rainfall, orders from farmers continued to be slow, added the trader.

Imports of monammonium phosphate (MAP) fertilizer were 267,000 tonnes during January-August 2008.

But with no further import activity expected to take place before the end of the year, imports of MAP could be down by 350,000 tonnes compared with 2007.

The trader did not blame the global financial crisis. "It’s not a credit issue,” the source said. “Farmers are accustomed in Argentina to working without it!”

In addition to an unpopular government, the trader blamed softening grain and cereal prices.

Import demand was not expected to resurface until early 2009, the source concluded.

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By: Mike Nash
+44 20 8652 3214

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