"Soaring fertilizer prices put global food security at risk"

The rolling crises of the past few years made so many vital commodities visible that plenty of us never gave much thought, like nickel, silicon chips, lumber, and the latest edition to this list: Fertilizer. Skyrocketing fertilizer costs, like those made from nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK), are driving up food prices and worse, threatening food security around the globe.

Many reasons can be mentioned for this shortage. Prices for these heavily traded raw materials were already rising in 2021 because of a myriad of factors: Hurricane Ida in the U.S., an upsurge in demand after the pandemic, supply chain issues, and rising natural gas prices that predated the war in Ukraine. 

Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupted trading in the Black sea, putting the global food supply in peril (for instance, the wheat disruption). Russia and its ally Belarus also produce a lot of fertilizer. In 2020, Russia provided 14% of urea (a nitrogen fertilizer) and Belarus 41% of potash, a potassium fertilizer. 

In wealthier countries, we'll continue to see higher food prices, and in more vulnerable countries, things could grow desperate. "Many fields are not being planted," Theo de Jager, the president of the World Farmers' Organisation, said yesterday. "I'm not so sure it's possible to avoid a food crisis."

Read the complete article at www.axios.com.

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