Local fertiliser traders and suppliers have confirmed there will be sufficient fertiliser supply during the peak plantation season starting in May, while pledging to step up imports from Saudi Arabia to meet domestic demand.
According to Wattanasak Sur-iam, director-general of the Internal Trade Department who chaired yesterday's joint meeting with representatives of three fertiliser associations, the private sector insists Thailand will not face any fertiliser shortages, with domestic supply sufficient to support the country's new annual crops scheduled for plantation in May.
"Entrepreneurs also pledged to accelerate fertiliser imports from new supply sources, especially Saudi Arabia, to offset the impact from the war between Russia and Ukraine," he said.
Thailand's demand for fertiliser is about 5 million tonnes a year, but the country is capable of producing only 8% of the total domestic demand.
Thailand is a net importer of fertiliser, importing more than 5 million tonnes of fertiliser a year, with the main suppliers including the Middle East, China, Canada and Russia.
In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war driving up production costs, the Internal Trade Department approved on March 18 local traders and suppliers increasing fertiliser prices. The hike was only approved on a case-by-case basis, not across the board.
According to Mr Wattanasak, the department also asked for cooperation from the fertiliser associations to help supervise their members to prevent any profiteering practices and hoarding.
The department threatened to remove distribution licences and take legal action against those who exploit this opportunity by price-gouging for fertiliser.
The department also asked for cooperation from the Commerce Ministry's commercial officials nationwide to help inspect, follow up and supervise fertiliser distribution in their respective areas.
Thepvit Teosuratkul, vice-president of the Thai Fertilizer and Agricultural Supplies Association, said fertiliser prices have risen substantially, with free-on-board prices of urea fertiliser from the Middle East now quoted at US$960-1,000 a tonne, up 200% from the same period last year.
According to Mr Thepvit, the recent approval by the Internal Trade Department to allow producers to raise fertiliser prices in line with higher production costs has led the private sector to have more confidence in importing increased amounts of fertiliser.
Demand for fertiliser during the four months of peak plantation season between May and August is estimated at 2.5 million tonnes.