April 3, 2013 / 10:36 PM / in 5 years

Brazil's BNDES expects jump in fertilizer spending, financing

* BNDES to increase financing to 2 bln reais by 2015

* Flourishing farm sector reliant on fertilizer imports

SAO PAULO, April 3 (Reuters) - Brazil’s national development bank BNDES said on Wednesday it expects a jump in spending on fertilizer projects in coming years as one of the world’s top farming nations tries to reduce its reliance on imports.

BNDES plans to increase financing for potassium, phosphate and nitrogen projects to 2 billion reais ($989 million) by 2015, a manager of the bank told Reuters in an interview. In the past three years, just 250 million reais in financing was available.

“BNDES can help the government stimulate this sector,” said Vinícius Samu, the bank’s manager of the department of chemical industry. He said a wave of private investment in the sector was “welcome”.

Brazil is the world’s No. 4 fertilizer consumer, behind the United States, India and China, but it imports 60 percent of what it uses. Demand has risen steeply as Brazil’s soy, corn, sugarcane and coffee sectors flourish.

International firms have taken note and are ramping up investment in ventures to mine fertilizer materials. Toronto-listed start-up Verde Potash Plc plans to start mining potassium at its flagship project in southeastern Brazil in 2015.

Brazilian miner Vale will likely develop potash mines in Brazil and Canada that it had put on hold in order to make up for the suspension of its $6 billion Rio Colorado project in Argentina.

Brazil is the world’s No. 1 coffee, sugar and orange juice producer and could soon become the top soybean producer.

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