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The Fertiliser Trap


  • The cost of chemical fertilisers in both the global North and South has skyrocketed over the past two years and is putting severe economic strain on farmers’ and public budgets. 
  • G20 nations paid almost twice as much for key fertiliser imports in 2021 compared to 2020 and are on course to spend three times as much in 2022 — an additional cost of at least US$ 21.8 billion. For example, the UK paid an extra US$ 144 million for fertiliser imports in 2021 and 2022, and Brazil paid an extra US$ 3.5 billion.  
  • Nine developing countries are on course to pay three times more in 2022 than they did in 2020. These countries include Pakistan, which paid an extra US$ 874 million, and Ethiopia, which paid an extra US$ 384 million in 2021 and 2022.  
  • The world’s largest fertiliser companies are making record profits as farmers struggle to cope with increased prices. Nine of the world’s largest fertiliser companies are expected to make US$ 57 billion in profit in 2022, up more than fourfold from two years ago; their profits in 2021 and 2022 are on course to come to a total of US$ 84 billion. 
  • Actions must focus on reducing the consumption of chemical fertilisers and supporting alternative technologies — not increasing production. This will cut costs, and the damage which chemical fertilisers cause to the environment and the climate.