'Peak phosphate' -- quibbling over statistics...

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at gn.apc.org
Thu Jan 20 19:31:23 GMT 2011

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'Peak phosphate' -- like oil and gas arguments over statistics are still 
quibbling about the date, but the longer-term trend and geopolitical 
implications are undeniable. (the best place to go for more general info is 
Phosphate Futures -- http://phosphorusfutures.net/peak-phosphorus )

2 articles below. The IFDC preentation is at 



Global phosphate reserves centralised

By Karen Hunt, ABC News (Australia), 18/01/2011

Global phosphate supplies could depend in the near future on the whims of one 
man, the King of Morocco.

A report from the International Fertiliser Development Centre says the king, 
through his family companies, controls around 86 per cent of the vast reserves 
of rock phosphate in the country.

About half of Australia's imported phosphate fertiliser is thought to have 
originated in the African nation, although it may have been processed in 
another country.

Professor Stuart White is a director of the Institute of Sustainable Futures 
at the University of Technology in Sydney.

He says the IFDC report has some interesting ramifications for all fertiliser 
users, especially if demand from Africa increases.

Demand from China and India pushed phosphate fertiliser prices soaring in 
2008, and Professor White says if Africa begins developing at a similar rate, 
it will exhaust reserves at a much faster rate.

He says 'peak phosphate' the time at which production peaks and then starts to 
diminish, could be pushed out by some 20 to 30 years on current estimates if 
the data in the report is included in the calculations.

Please note; the views on 'peak phosphorus' are those of Professor White and 
not those expressed in the IFDC report


What future for fertilizers?    

Syngenta Foundation, 18th January 2011

Fertilizers are crucial for agriculture. However, major efforts are required to 
ensure they play their full role in meeting hugely increased food demands by 
2050. Dr. Amit Roy, president and CEO of IFDC, addressed this topic recently 
at the Syngenta Foundation.
The IFDC works to improve food security and stimulate economic growth in many 
of the world’s poorest countries. It addresses both supply- and demand-side 
issues. “Agriculture remains the economic growth engine in much of Africa, 
Latin America and Asia”, comments Roy. “Improved agricultural production 
systems and agribusiness development are inextricably linked. So our programs 
help develop competitive markets and expand trade.”
Broad-based stakeholder participation and technology transfer are priorities 
in all IFDC development initiatives. Fertilizers are no exception. In fact, 
Roy believes that the single most important contribution to improving 
fertilizer use is better dissemination of knowledge to smallholders. “They 
need to know more about best practices, and about future new products”.
Unfortunately, new products have been rare. The crucial Haber-Bosch method of 
producing ammonia from nitrogen has been in use for over 100 years. 
Traditionally, the fertilizer industry has spent far less on R&D than crop 
science companies.
- From Cinderella to systems: taking fertilizer R&D a big step forward
Amit Roy and colleagues aim to stimulate significant progress through the 
creation of the Virtual Fertilizer Research Center.  The Syngenta Foundation’s 
Executive Director, Marco Ferroni, is a member of the VFRC’s Advisory Board. 
“The world must learn to produce and use nitrogen more efficiently”, Roy 
emphasizes. “And whether the fertilizer in question is nitrogen, phosphorus or 
potassium, we need to see it in the context of a much wider economic and 
ecological equation.” To Roy’s mind, that includes ending fertilizer R&D’s 
“seclusion in a silo”. Moving forward, he says, “we must take a ‘systems 
approach’ – for example, by linking up closely with crop science research.”
To see why this work is so important, and how the VFRC intends to proceed, see 
the presentation. http://www.syngentafoundation.org/db/1/925.pdf
Amit Roy has been the president and chief executive officer of IFDC since 1992. 
Under his leadership, IFDC’s programs have broadened to help create 
sustainable agricultural productivity worldwide. Roy was instrumental in 
organizing the 2006 Africa Fertilizer Summit in Nigeria. This brought together 
more than 40 African nations and over 1100 international policymakers and 
agricultural experts to address Africa’s soil fertility crisis. For more 
information, visit the IFDC website. http://www.ifdc.org/

- -- 


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