In November 2022, the European Commission published the Communication “Ensuring availability and affordability of fertilisers”, which was developed as a response to the ongoing global mineral fertiliser and energy crises. By way of background, the current global scarcity of fertiliser stems primarily from the high price of natural gas, which is used for the production of nitrogen fertilisers/ammonia. The EU does have an important fertiliser industry, but it is dependent on imports of natural gas as well as on imports of phosphates and potash.
The Communication provides guidance and outlines a number of (short-term) actions to address the difficult situation the EU industry and farmers are currently facing. The Communication is also intended to support EU’s partner countries that are also exposed to the ongoing crisis. The Communication is thus structured around two main headings: actions to maintain a sustainable EU fertilisers’ production and reduce dependencies (EU domestic actions); and actions to support vulnerable countries and improve global food security (actions in the international arena).
As far as EU domestic actions are concerned, the Communication stresses the importance of helping EU farmers use fertilisers more efficiently and sustainably. The Communication also reports that the European Commission will continue to work on improving access to organic fertilisers and nutrients from recycled waste-streams, supporting the transition of the EU fertiliser industry from nitrogen-based to ammonia using renewable and fossil-free hydrogen, and supporting import diversification to reduce dependence on Russia.
In the international arena, the European Commission intends to continue promoting discussions on transparency improvements and on limiting export restrictions. The European Commission will also cooperate with selected EU partner countries, incl. through the Global Fertilisers Challenge, to reduce their dependence and consumption on imported mineral fertilisers through the use of effective and sustainable farming practices as well as alternatives based on sustainable soil fertility management.
The current crisis has reinforced the European Commission’s case for replacing mineral/synthetic fertilisers with organic fertilisers, and for pushing towards an optimisation of fertiliser use and precision agriculture, organic farming, agro-ecology, etc. This is in line with what announced in e.g., the Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU Soil Strategy for 2030, and the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. The forthcoming Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan and the EU Soil Health Law are also set to contribute to these objectives. Overall, this context may offer increased opportunities for Israeli companies that already offer specialty fertilising products, such as controlled-release fertilisers and organic fertilisers. Furthermore, the Communication may bring new momentum for Israeli businesses and farmers that are specialised in innovative solutions, such as precision agriculture and nutrient use efficiency.
For further information, please follow the link to access the European Communication “Ensuring availability and affordability of fertilisers”. Please click here to access its Annex.
Please do not hesitate to contact our office at EU@israeltrade.gov.il if you have any questions or require further information.