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India's potash import faces price hurdle

Bs Reporter  |  Chennai/ Hyderabad 

High international prices of potash have become a hurdle for India, which imports all its potash needs. While the Indian government is willing to pay up to $ 420 per tonne of imported potash, the international prices are ruling at $ 500-510, with companies from Brazil paying up to $ 520 per tonne.

According to Ravi Prasad, president, Coromandel International, being the largest buyer of the nutrient in the international market, India should get some leeway with the price, and may get supplies for this season if contracts are signed by the end of this month. Citing news reports, he said the government reportedly hiked its offer to $ 440 per tonne.

Last year, the price was $ 370 per tonne. India imports its entire potash need of 6 million tonnes, and accounts for 60 per cent of the world imports. India sources potash from Canada, Russia, Israel and Jordan. Apart from potash, India would need 29 million tonnes of urea this year, 12 million tonnes of DAP (diammonium phosphate), 3.5 million tonnes of super phosphate, and 10 million tonnes of complex fertiliser, according to Prasad.

However, even if import contracts for the season cannot be struck, Prasad said there would not be a danger of fall in food output because of the residual potash content in the soil and the availability of 400,000-500,000 tonne fertiliser with various companies.

With this quantity, up to 1.5 million tonnes of complex fertiliser can be manufactured, which would serve the needs till the end of August, he said. Of the 6 million tonnes of potash, 4 million tonnes is applied directly while the rest is used for NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) fertiliser.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a roundtable on agribusiness opportunities in Andhra Pradesh organised by the Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce & Industry here on Friday.

Coromandel is looking to tap sugar molasses as an alternate source of potash, and would manufacture 5,000 tonnes this year from that source, he said. It is also in the process of expanding its municipal waste-based Kakinada organic fertiliser plant from its current capacity of 0.2 million tonnes to 1 million tonnes in five years.

First Published: Mon, June 13 2011. 00:59 IST