Germany’s imports of nitrogen fertilizers from Russia have seen a significant increase during the past agricultural year, despite Berlin’s efforts to distance itself from the sanctioned country. According to calculations based on data from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), German farmers purchased around 334% more Russian fertilizers, amounting to 167 thousand tons as of June 2023, compared to 38.5 thousand tons in July 2022.
One particular fertilizer, urea, experienced a 304% increase in imports during the first half of 2023 compared to the same period last year. As a result of these surges, Russia’s share in Germany’s fertilizer imports rose from 5.6% to nearly 18%.
Germany’s domestic fertilizer production has been facing challenges due to rising gas prices, which have made production more costly. In the previous agricultural year (2021-2022), German companies produced 37% of the country’s total fertilizer consumption. However, in the last year, they only covered 5% of the consumption due to the increased expenses of production.
Germany heavily relies on energy imports from Russia and was greatly affected by the reduction in Russian gas deliveries last year. This reduction was a consequence of the European Union’s imposition of sanctions on Moscow in response to the conflict in Ukraine. While Germany has managed to lower energy prices by importing from alternative sources, the prices are still expected to remain high until at least 2027, according to recent forecasts.
Martin May, spokesman for Germany’s Agricultural Industry Association, explained that purchasing Russian fertilizers is a means for the country to indirectly import Russian gas. May emphasized, “For Germany, it was a major effort last year to become independent from Russian gas supplies. Gas and energy constitute 80-90% of the manufacturing costs of mineral fertilizers. Therefore, the imported fertilizers are essentially cheap Russian natural gas in the next value-added stage,” May said.
Germany’s increasing reliance on Russian fertilizers highlights the complexity of trying to distance itself from the sanctioned country while remaining heavily dependent on its energy resources. The surge in fertilizer imports illustrates the interconnectedness of the global agricultural and energy sectors and the challenges faced by Germany in achieving energy independence.
For more stories on economy and finance, visit RT’s business section.