Dec. 11, 2017
Terje Knutsen, EVP, Crop Nutrition of the Oslo-based speciality fertiliser major Yara International ASA, recently attended the Fertiliser Association of India annual conference.
In an recent interview, Knutsen shares his thoughts on why he thinks India needs to correct its policies in crop nutrition sector. Excerpts:
While addressing the gathering at the FAI annual seminar, you said there is a need for India to correct its policies in crop nutrition sector. Can you please elaborate on the concerns you have?
One of our key concerns is that registration processes for introduction of new fertilisers should become time and cost-efficient so that Indian farmers have timely access to new products. This will help raise productivity and make Indian agriculture globally competitive.
India is among the countries that have high imbalanced NPK application ratios. What can India do to improve it?
Farmers have had the tendency to use more urea since it is subsidised heavily. The environmental damage caused by the inappropriate use of fertilisers is certainly a matter of serious concern in many states.
The deterioration in fertiliser mix will not only have an impact on productivity of crops but also on long-term soil health. As a consequence, over the years, there has been a decline in the fertiliser response ratio also.
The fertiliser industry needs to bring in more value-added fertilisers, with higher nutrient use efficiency. The benefits of balanced fertiliser practices need to be demonstrated clearly to farmers and we need to continuously upgrade their knowledge. We follow this farmer-centric approach all over the world and find that it yields good results. By adopting balanced crop nutrition, there is a huge possibility to optimise yield, maximise output and farmer income, as well as minimising the negative environmental impact.
We are working together with value-chain partners, particularly with food companies and this helps in sustainable value-creation for farmers, higher yields with reduced loss and less use of resources. At the same time farmers are assured of good output prices for their produce.
Do you have plans to bring in speciality crop nutrition products? What are the goals and timelines worked on?
Yara has a long history in India and has supplied fertilisers as well as fertiliser raw materials to the Indian market for more than two decades. Since the late 1990’s, Yara has partnered with some of the leading Indian fertiliser companies to meet the demand for speciality fertilisers from the horticulture crops segment. In India, initially Yara was marketing calcium nitrate through leading fertiliser companies like Tata Chemicals, Shriram, and Nagarjuna.
In 2011, Yara set up its own operations in Maharashtra. Since then, we have been providing full crop nutrition solutions to the Indian farmer.
In 2017, we have a pan-India presence and YaraLiva (calcium nitrate range) continues to be a key product in our portfolio in India.
We have introduced YaraMila, the global brand for Yara’s premium range of compound NPK fertilisers for horticultural and plantation crops. YaraMila range is a soil applied speciality NPK fertilisers with superior nutrient forms and sources. Both the YaraLiva as well as the YaraMila products are produced in our own production facility at Porsgrunn, Norway, which is Europe’s largest installed production capacity for NPK complex fertilizers.
We have also introduced our premium water-soluble product range — Deltaspray.
Besides, we see that our YaraVita foli arrange of products can add significant value to Indian agriculture. The YaraVita foliar sprays are developed to target the leaf or fruit, to work fast and to effectively overcome crop deficiencies. Each YaraVita foliar product is formulated from consistently high quality nutrient compounds with co-formulants to control and enhance performance.
How do you compare the fertiliser policy situation in India and Brazil? What are the major lessons that India can learn from Brazil?
In Brazil and India, the agricultural sector plays a crucial role in the overall economy and both countries rank high as agricultural producers with favourable climate and farmland available.
In Brazil, Yara has built a significant market position since the $750-million Bunge acquisition in 2013. In Brazil, the agribusiness is part of a market economy with limited government intervention, and our growth has been driven by our focus on premium offerings, creating value for farmers through close collaboration to optimise yields and quality of produce.
From an agribusiness perspective, we believe the Indian agricultural sector has great potential to become more productive and more efficient by improving fertiliser application practices. Urea is the most-used fertiliser as it is considerably cheaper than other fertilisers. Our experience in India has shown that our crop nutrition knowledge, farmer-centric way of working and premium offerings create significant value for the Indian farmer. We believe that our recent urea acquisition (Expected to be complete by January 2018) will put us in a position where we can reach more Indian farmers with our premium offerings, helping them to improve yields and increase their profitability.
What is your firm’s share in Brazilian fertiliser market? I recently read that you are investing more in Brazil. What is the total capacity planned in Brazil?
Yara is a market leader in the Brazilian fertiliser market with about 25 per cent market share. Almost one third of our revenues and number of employees come from Brazil. This is the result of a dedicated growth strategy in an agricultural region with great significance as a bread basket for the world. In recent years, Yara has invested about approximately $1.5 billion in Brazil and in November this year, Yara entered into a $255-million agreement to acquire the Vale Cubatão Fertilizantes complex. With this acquisition, Yara further strengthens its production and market position in Brazil.