The China Nitrogen Fertilizer Industry Association warned on Friday that coronavirus lockdowns could jeopardize the spring corn and soybean planting season by disrupting the supply of fertilizer to farms in northeastern China.
Reuters explained that Chinese farmers normally stockpile fertilizer in early April, but controls on the flow of goods and people across the country imposed after the coronavirus outbreaks of the past few months have shuttered factories and interfered with shipments.
Furthermore, the global supply of fertilizer has been disrupted by sanctions imposed against Russia, the world’s largest exporter. Fertilizer chemical prices are spiking by 30 to 40 percent around the world, from the United States to China.
This photo taken on June 6, 2020, shows an aerial view of farmers harvesting wheat in a village near Suqian, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province. (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Those high prices discouraged Chinese distributors from building up their inventory, leaving them short by thousands of tons. Producers with fertilizer products ready to ship say Chinese coronavirus restrictions are preventing them from sending their goods to the northeastern farms. Even if the necessary passes for shipment are issued, the companies will likely come up short on truck drivers, as many have dropped out of the industry due to the coronavirus.
While Chinese state media insisted the situation is under control and adequate supplies of fertilizer will somehow be delivered in time for planting at the end of April, China hedged its bets by purchasing a huge volume of corn from the United States on Monday.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said last week that American farmers are also planning to reduce their corn planting this spring, although demand is high, because the price of fuel and fertilizer has skyrocketed.
Chinese officials, including dictator Xi Jinping, grudgingly admitted in February that food security could be a problem in the coming year, especially since Xi has been pushing for China to become as self-sufficient as possible.
“The food of the Chinese people must be made by and remain in the hands of the Chinese,” Xi told a Politburo Standing Committee meeting, setting a goal that will be very difficult to reach without an adequate supply of fertilizer.