Asia-Pacific agriculture drives global demand for ammonia

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Asia-Pacific agriculture drives global demand for ammonia

Ammonia-based fertilizers are driving food security for emerging nations such as China and India, according to a report by GBI Research. Woman picking tea leaves in a tea plantation, Munnar, India

In 2011, the Asia-Pacific region took a 58.7% share of global demand for ammonia, consuming 70 million tons (MT) of the product.

Representing almost a third of the world population, China and India face the challenge of meeting rising food demand and providing sustained agricultural chemicals, the market researcher explained.

"The response to this increase in food demand by their governments has been the sustained use of agricultural chemicals, particularly fertilizer," a GBI representative told in a written statement.

"It is also the response of these governments seeking to provide food security to their nations, particularly because they are still developing and still have low per unit area fertilizer utilization, which provides substantial market potential for ammonia-based fertilizers."

Ammonia-based fertilizers containing components such as urea and ammonium nitrate provide a major source of nitrogen, an important element for increasing crop yield. Fertilizers with ammonia contain the highest amount of nitrogen at 82%, which makes them an appealing source to increase agricultural inputs.

"As crops take up nutrients from the soil, a substantial proportion of these nutrients are removed from the field when the crops are harvested. While some nutrients can be returned to the field through crop residues and other organic matter, this alone cannot provide optimum fertilization and crop yields over time," GBI Research explained.

"The use of ammonia based fertilizers provides essential nutrients to the soil, which helps increase the fertility of the soil, and in turn enhances crop yields."

Fertilizers and agriculture usages are expected to continue dominating demand in for ammonia. About a quarter of 2011 demand in the region, however, was driven by the refrigeration, pulp and paper, and leather industries.

Some possible disadvantages of using such fertilizers include soil acidification, pathogens, increased fitness for certain pests, oxygen depletion in oceanic environments and runoff into surface water.

Despite risks, however, ammonia-based fertilizers have been promoted for use in areas where per unit area consumption of fertilizers is low. Global demand is expected to be driven by these emerging markets.

Globally, ammonia consumption increased from 96.4 million MT in 2000 to 120.8 million MT in 2011. The category is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.2% to reach 160.1 million tons in 2020.

Photo: Fotolia, Mariusz Prusaczyk


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