Published: Sep 21, 2014
Source: Saudi Gazette

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GCC producers set sights on nutrition-packed fertilizers

Fertilizers that can combat nutrition deficiencies will be a major opportunity for GCC producers, according to industry experts at the 5th annual Fertilizer Convention, organized by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA). 

“Fertilizer producers in the Gulf region should look into micronutrient fortification, because this is the best way to ensure quality and quantity of food yield for both the developing and developed world,” said Esin Mete, President of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA).

“Micronutrient fortification—which involves adding key nutrients like zinc— is a simple, affordable and sustainable solution to eradicating food deficiencies globally.”

Mete highlighted that up to 2 billion people worldwide suffer from zinc deficiency, with 1.5 million child deaths due to the absence of this nutrient in their diets. She highlighted that Turkish fertilizer companies have tackled this challenge by adding zinc into their products, resulting in a generation of children free of this deficiency, $150 million in economic benefits and a 500 percent increase in crop yield. 

Micronutrient fortification in fertilizers will be an opportunity for innovation, trade ties and economic stability. “Fertilizer producers in the GCC will have a significant role to play because of exports,” she concluded.  

In 2013, fertilizer producers in the Arabian Gulf manufactured 42.7 million tons of products, according to GPCA estimates. Nearly 50 percent of this capacity was used for export purposes to 80 countries.

Nutrient deficiency was a highlighted as a key challenge in global food security by subsequent speakers. According to Dr. Terry Roberts, President of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), roughly 842 million people worldwide are deficient in key nutrients like zinc, iron and vitamin A.  

“One in eight people go to bed hungry every night, yet at the same time, 1.4 billion people are overweight and 500 million are classified as obese,” said Dr. Roberts. “We live in a world of extremes.”  

With scientists predicting that 40 to 60 percent of future crop yield coming from fertilizers, Dr. Roberts concluded that fertilizers will be crucial in feeding billions of people that will inhabit this planet in the next few decades. “Sustainable intensification, the method that will increase yields on existing lands in a way that is environmentally responsible, will be critical,” he said.  

“The GCC’s fertilizer industry is an export oriented sector that has shown consistently high growth levels in the recent past. 2013 capacity figures showed a 4 percent increase from the previous year, which is remarkable because the global fertilizer industry grew just 1.7 percent in the same period,” said Dr. Abdulwahab Al- Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA. “While the consensus on future growth is positive, what fertilizer producers in the Arabian Gulf will need to focus on is innovation— specifically, to manufacture products that will not only have a positive impact on yield, and also benefit the health of billions of people that need to be fed.”

The 5th annual Fertilizer Convention hosted more than 300 delegates from 35 countries. Over 21 speakers provided key insights delegates on supply and demand analysis from major markets around the globe, thought leadership from industry experts, and project case studies from the local and global fertilizer sector. 

The GPCA launched two industry reports during the event. The Role of GCC Fertilizers in Addressing Food Security, produced in collaboration with Nexant, is an in-depth study on major trends across the agriculture, food, energy and petrochemical industries. The 2013 GCC Fertilizer Industry Indicators was also released during the convention, offering a comprehensive statistical overview of the fertilizer industry in the Arab Gulf region. 

Additionally, the region’s top fertilizer producers, including Fertil, QAFCO and GPIC hosted 40 students and professors from local universities like Petroleum Institute, Qatar University and the University of Bahrain

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