Fertiliser body recommends swift import of urea

The Fertiliser Review Committee has recommended immediate import of the earlier planned 100,000 tons of urea to avoid any shortage during the ongoing Rabi sowing season.

According to the Ministry of Industries and Production, a meeting of the Fertiliser Review Committee was held where urea demand and supply position and stock availability for Rabi 2018-19 was analysed.

After deliberations, it was recommended to immediately import the planned 100,000 tons of urea. Meanwhile, the help of provincial governments will be sought for controlling prices of fertiliser in the market, the committee decided.

 The committee also recommended that all running fertiliser plants should be kept operational to ensure optimal production and availability of fertiliser in the country.

Ministry of Industries Secretary Azhar Ali Chaudhry chaired the meeting, which was attended by representatives of all fertiliser producers.

According to Pak-Kuwait Investment Company AVP Research Adnan Sami Sheikh, with the expected import of 100,000 tons of urea, the market will be just at the ‘border-line equilibrium’ as the present stock, expected domestic production following activation of two idle plants and imports would just match the anticipated demand.

“The situation cannot be called comfortable for the fertiliser market, however, we will have border-line equilibrium in the sector,” he said.

According to the analyst, Agritech and Fatima Fertiliser started producing urea in October after the two companies began receiving gas for the next four months. In the first phase, 50,000 tons of urea will be imported which is expected to reach by mid-November.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had directed the import of fertiliser for the Rabi season as the industry expected a shortfall of 400,000 tons. It is expected that the activation of idle plants will help reduce the shortfall by 75%. Sheikh said the second batch of 50,000 tons of urea was expected to arrive by mid-December.

He pointed out that it would be difficult for the federal government to help maintain the prices through subsidy as it looked towards a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (ECC), which opposes such concessions. Therefore, the provincial governments will have to step in.