24-27 November 2021 | Anfaş Expo Center - Antalya / Turkey

We had an interview with Metin Güneş, Fertilizer Manufacturers Importers and Exporters Association (GÜİD) President, on important issues regarding the sector.

We had an interview with the President of GÜİD, Metin Güneş, where he conveyed important issues regarding the sector. GÜİD  took its place with its members at Growtech, which will be held for the 20th time in Antalya on November 24-27. We wish you a pleasant reading of the interview about sustainable agriculture and fertilizer sector, the importance of which increased the pandemic.

Metin Güneş
President of GÜİD

Fertilizer Manufacturers Importers and Exporters Association (GÜİD) is the only non-governmental organization representing the fertilizer industry in Turkey. Could you give us more information about GÜİD?

GÜİD was established in Antalya in 2003, and it is the only non-governmental organization in the fertilizer industry. In its early years, GÜİD accepted members only from Antalya, but today it has become a big organization with approximately 150 members all around Turkey. In recent years, GÜİD has drawn more members and gained more recognition on various platforms. With an innovative, inclusive and solution-oriented approach, we work closely with the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, public and private institutions, universities and agricultural NGOs and other stakeholders to find solutions to the problems in the agriculture industry.

GÜİD will continue its efforts to support the development of agriculture
and fertilizer industries in Turkey, to improve yield and quality per unit area of land, and to make Turkey a leading exporter in all areas of agricultural production.

What is the current status of fertilizer manufacturers in Turkey? How did the latest developments affect you and the farmers, who have to rely on imports for raw materials?

Turkey produces almost all types of fertilizers; however, unfortunately, 95% of the raw materials are imported from abroad. As the industry heavily relies on imports, the fertilizer prices are often affected by the supply-and-demand balance as well as by the fluctuations in foreign currency rates. The free fall of Turkish lira in August 2020 led to an increase in fertilizer prices, and this happened just before the start of the grain planting season, which further aggravated the impact on the use of fertilizers.

In 2021, fertilizer prices went up by 50-80%, in addition to the price hikes caused by increases in exchange rates. The prices of raw materials, including ammonia, sulfuric acid, nitric acid and phosphoric acid, as well as the freight costs (transportation), soared, while the fertilizer demand jumped in several agricultural countries, such as India, all of which resulted in a drastic increase in fertilizer prices.

Due to the sharp increase in prices, Republic of Turkey Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry launched some initiatives with the private sector and GÜİD to mitigate the risk of a decrease in use of fertilizers. Our organization has advised the Ministry that the soaring prices should be supported by the state. The private sector also tried to minimize the impact of price hikes by balancing prices somewhere between the former and updated levels. Meanwhile, Republic of Turkey Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry doubled their subsidies to farmers who use organic or organomineral fertilizers. Despite all these efforts, the farmers are still adversely affected by the hikes in fertilizer prices.

 

During this process, all of us have better understood the importance of sustainability in agriculture. How did the fertilizer industry fare in this process?

During the global pandemic, the main objective, apart from maintaining the healthcare services, was avoiding disruptions in the food supply chain. All countries around the world began to set new policies for the agriculture industry, as it is the only source of food.

In this process, we also realized the importance of agricultural lands, which have been shrinking due to the booming global population. In this context, sustainability in agriculture should be our main priority. There are two vital sources in agriculture: soil and water. We have to stop wild usage of water and soil, and raise awareness about conscious use of these sources. Every stakeholder in the agriculture industry should be an advocate of sustainable agriculture, and focus all of their efforts in this area. Fertilizer has a direct impact on the sustainable use of soil. Farmers should be trained on proper use of fertilizers.

As people started consuming more food at home during the lockdown periods and were more likely to stock up food at their homes, the prices of agricultural products were generally kept at reasonable levels except for a few specific products. On the other hand, during the full lockdowns which were in place for several weekends, the district bazaars were not opened, and this also had a negative impact on the industry.

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and other institutions made efforts to avoid disruptions in agricultural activities resulting from the restrictions and lockdowns during the pandemic. The government eased the restrictions for citizens working in the agricultural industry.

The fertilizer industry was also able to maintain its operations during the pandemic by implementing the measures advised by the authorities, including social distancing, using face masks and hygiene.

Data from 2020 indicates that the use of fertilizers is back on the rise as compared to past two years. Consumption of conventional fertilizers, which plummeted from 6.7 million tons to 5.3 million tons, has now climbed over 6 million tons. In 2020, more than 7 million tons of fertilizers were used, including special fertilizers.

The increase in fertilizer prices in early 2021 continues to have a negative impact on use of fertilizers despite the state subsidies. The authorities should immediately take necessary measures because any decrease in the use of fertilizers will adversely affect the crop yield and quality.

Furthermore, the potential drought in 2021 may result in significant losses in various crops, particularly in grains.

 

Exporting fertilizers is just as important as manufacturing them. What kind of initiatives can be launched to boost exports? Do you have any projects for the target markets?

Although we heavily rely on imports for raw materials, it is crucial to increase the manufacturing volumes of fertilizers…

In addition to imported raw materials, the high costs of energy also create a burden on the industry. First of all, the authorities should take actions to solve these two fundamental problems. Imports of raw materials should be subsidized and facilitated. The high-cost inputs of the manufacturing process should also be more cost-efficient.

Processing and manufacturing these raw materials locally may significantly contribute to the national economy. Localization of raw material production will help us offer fertilizers to our farmers at more affordable prices and have a better competitive advantage in the international markets.

Today, we can export only 10% of our fertilizers. As part of a global trend, the demand for special fertilizers is on the rise in Turkey. Nevertheless, the number of special fertilizer manufacturers has increased in recent years, and with the efforts of these companies, the number of export destinations has gone up. We are proud to see Turkish brands dominating several markets, including North Africa, Middle East and the Balkans, which were previously controlled by European exporters.

During my office as the president of GÜİD, we were planning to take numerous actions, such as participating in exhibitions and exchanging information with other countries about innovations in the industry; however, sadly, we cannot do these at the planned pace due to the pandemic. Subsidization of the production of fertilizers and supporting exporters of fertilizers will be key drivers of development in our industry.

At GÜİD, we work closely with unions of exporters, chamber of commerce and industry and other non-governmental organizations and we exchange ideas with these stakeholders.

 

Which fertilizers are more popular among farmers around the world? Are there any innovations in this area? What kind of innovations are adopted by Turkish farmers?

Fertilizers are categorized into various groups: nitrogen fertilizers, phosphorus fertilizers, potassium fertilizers, and organic fertilizers with different contents. Fertilizers can also be classified by their structure: solid, water-soluble or liquid fertilizers. They can also be categorized according to method of use: bottom fertilizers, fertilizers for drip systems or foliar fertilizers.

The most popular types of fertilizers include nitrogen, phosphor or potassium fertilizers, such as urea, ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulphate, DAP and potassium sulphate.

However, saving the environment has become a main highlight in international action plans and in global markets. All companies and market stakeholders are taking steps to organize their manufacturing and sales activities in the framework of the UN Global Compact principles. It is likely that governments will introduce strict controls and sanctions. Therefore, eco-friendly fertilizers with less environmental impact are gaining more traction.

Nitrogen inhibitors, urea formaldehydes, slow-release fertilizers with IBDU and CDU compounds, polymer-coated or resin-coated controlled-release fertilizers, microgranular fertilizers, microbial fertilizers, nano-technology fertilizers and many other innovative and eco-friendly products are winning bigger market shares in Turkey and around the world.

Turkey’s agricultural lands are poor in organic matter. Therefore, the state subsidies offered in the last 2 years for organic and organomineral fertilizers are very important.

 

Your organization has long been a supporter of Growtech. How has this exhibition contributed to the industry? What are your expectations for this year’s event?

For the fertilizer industry, Growtech has always made a positive contribution to our business. We would like to thank you for allocating a stand for our association at every event.

Our exporter members have significantly benefited from this organization particularly because of the huge turnout of international visitors in the past exhibitions. And those who were seeking to launch new products were able to build collaboration with local stakeholders.

Growtech could not be organized in 2020 due to the pandemic, but we hope it will be back on in 2021. The number of active cases has been going down, and it will reach even lower levels until the exhibition season; so, this will have a positive impact on the number of visitors. Growtech will once again make a reviving impact on the agriculture industry.

At GÜİD, we are sure that Growtech will make remarkable contributions to our industry and to agriculture, as it has done in the past.

We hope this year’s event bring good luck to the agriculture industry.

    

Could you please share your final remarks?

Agriculture, as the primary source of food, is inevitably the top priority for every country. We are among the top manufacturers of specific crops, and we are self-sufficient in the production of numerous food products. Turkey has good biodiversity, with seas stretching on three sides, and with four seasons in different parts of the country. We must lay out long-term plans and policies to fulfil our agricultural potential. If we fail to do so and if we ignore our problems, our opportunities might fade away, and we may be faced with significant problems in food supply. We must turn our agricultural production into value-added brands for global markets. We must educate our farmers on the importance of conscious farming, and use technology to improve yield and quality.

As Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, said: “Agriculture is the basis of national economy.” It is the most important resource for growth. We must use our rich lands in the best way. We must support farmers with subsidies for high-cost inputs. We must not forget that we have the perfect conditions to build an agriculture-based industry and to be among the top exporters of agricultural products. And we must work tirelessly to be one of the leading companies in the agriculture industry.

We would like to thank Mr. Metin Güneş for his information. We are waiting to meet with GÜİD, its members and all our sector stakeholders in Antalya on November 24-27.

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