GLOBAL – The United States and Brazil, the world’s leaders in agricultural research, have partnered in developing a fertilizer-use efficiency research initiative aimed at combatting climate change and food insecurity, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reported.

According to the report, the innovative research project on fertilizer which has been carried out by scientists from the two countries over the last year is earmarked to be launched at the 50th-anniversary celebration of Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) on April 26, 2023

The initiative will consist of four research projects including Precision agriculture, nutrient management, fertilizer alternatives, and soil management each of the projects estimated to last up to four years.

The joint research initiative is also envisioned to lead to outcomes that go far beyond Brazil and the United States to the developing world to improve fertilizer use efficiency.

According to the parties, the initiative will lessen the world’s dependence on imported fertilizer, advance global food security, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The vulnerabilities of depending on imported fertilizer became pronounced during the Russo-Ukrainian war greatly curtailed Russia’s ability to export fertilizer to world markets.

Russia and Belarus are important producers of all three major fertilizer nutrients: In 2020, Russia accounted for 14% of global trade in urea and 11% of trade in phosphate, while jointly Russia and Belarus accounted for 41% of global trade in potash.

Countries heavily dependent on fertilizer imports from Russia and Belarus feared an immediate shortfall, and many had to scramble to secure alternative sources from a very tight global market.

 But with some three quarters of all countries importing at least 50% of their fertilizer consumption, trade shocks created by the war reverberated around the world, droving prices dramatically higher.

With many smallholder farmers unable to purchase the unusually expensive fertilizer, production was impacted leading to low production and high food prices. 

Reducing dependence on imported fertilizer could thus not only raise Brazil and America’s food production but also help spur production in developing countries which are more vulnerable to fertilizer price shocks.

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