China moves to ensure fertiliser output for spring planting as supplies tighten

BEIJING, Jan 15 (Reuters) - China’s state planner asked local governments and companies to ensure fertiliser supplies and stable prices for upcoming spring planting, according to a statement on the website of the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC) on Monday.

A gas supply crunch this winter has tightened supplies of urea and other gas-based fertilisers and boosted prices. The crunch following a government campaign that asked millions of households to switch from coal to natural gas.

“Fertiliser supplies and prices during spring planting concern stable development of agriculture production and are of vital interest to farmers,” said state planner NDRC.

“Fertiliser supplies in some regions are quite tight and prices have gone up quickly,” said NDRC.

To address the issue, NDRC asked natural gas and coal producers, including China National Petroleum Corp, Sinopec and CNOOC, to fill contracted deliveries and step up efforts as the heating season draws to an end to ensure feedstock and fuel supplies to fertiliser producers, according to the statement.

The NDRC also asked railway bureaus to prioritise the transport of fertilisers and raw materials during preparations for spring planting, the statement showed.

China will add another 5.5 million tonnes of fertiliser into its reserves in two years’ time to be used in case of a supply crunch during future spring plantings, the statement said.

NDRC also instructed local governments and companies to tell farmers to cut use of chemical fertilisers and turn to organic fertilisers, according to the statement.

Beijing is targeting zero growth of chemical fertilisers and pesticides by 2020. (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Tom Hogue)