Report finds huge fertiliser price hikes

An international think tank says a huge surge in fertiliser prices is putting farmers and government budgets under severe economic strain and contributing to food price inflation.

Analysis by the international groups GRAIN and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found that based on 2020 import numbers Australia would have paid 280 per cent more for fertiliser in 2022.

The report "the fertiliser trap" estimates Australian producers paid more than US$1.85 billion for fertiliser in 2022 than they did in 2020, when farmers spent US$646 million.

The groups, which advocate for biodiversity-based food systems and sustainable farming, are calling for the reduction in the use of chemical fertilisers worldwide.

The report assumed that imports in 2021 and 2022 were similar to 2020 as more recent data wasn't available.

The researchers found farmers and governments in the G20 spent $21.8 billion more on key fertiliser imports in 2021 and 2022, while the world's biggest fertiliser companies are expected to make almost US$84 billion profit over the same period.

They concluded that those G20 countries paid almost three times more for fertiliser imports in 2022 compared to 2020.

The analysis concluded the additional bill for fertiliser imports in 2021 and 22 was at least US$4.8 billion for India, US$3.6 billion for Brazil, and US$3 billion for the EU.

It found nine of the world's largest fertiliser companies are expected to quadruple their profits in 2022 from 2020 with profits estimated to be US$57 billion.

The Institute's Dr Sophia Murphy says in order to reduce prices and protect food production governments must end corporate profiteering.

"Stop the overuse of chemical fertilisers, boost the production of organic alternatives, and redirect public spending towards agri-ecological farming practices that cause less harm than chemical fertilisers," she says.

The G20 heads of state are due to discuss the fertiliser crisis when they meet in Indonesia in mid November.