South American Nations Push to Exclude Fertilizer From Russia Sanctions

South American Nations Push to Exclude Fertilizer From Russia Sanctions
Brazil's Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias attends the Brazil Investment Forum in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Oct. 10, 2019. (Amanda Perobelli/Reuters)

SAO PAULO—Six South American nations are proposing the exclusion of fertilizer from sanctions on Russia, a major world producer whose invasion of Ukraine has disrupted supplies, Brazil's Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said on Thursday.

She said Brazil has secured the support of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay for a proposal excluding fertilizer products that will be submitted to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.

Brazil, an agricultural powerhouse, is the world's top importer of fertilizers and argues that crop nutrients, like food, should not be targeted by sanctions.

Brazil relies on imports for 85 percent of the fertilizer it needs for its grain crops. More than one-fifth of its imports, totaling 9 million tonnes in 2021, comes from Russia.

Dias, who is expected to talk to FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, has called on countries to find a global solution for the issue, noting a shortage of fertilizers will cause food inflation and potentially undermine food security.

She hopes to get enough support from FAO to persuade other U.N. members to back the proposal.

"Global food inflation is something that should worry all countries," Dias said in a recent interview.

Even before the war in Ukraine, the global supply of fertilizers, especially potash, was already being curtailed after the United States sanctioned Belarus, another major producer.

As part of Brazil's efforts to secure supplies, Dias and Brazilian company representatives will travel next week to Canada, where Nutrien, the world's largest global producer of potash, is based.

While Russia is Brazil's main supplier of the NPK fertilizer mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, Canada is Brazil's main source of potash used to raise crop yields.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited Moscow days before the invasion of Ukraine to discuss Russian fertilizer supplies and sales of Brazilian beef.

By Roberto Samora