THE cost and retail price of chemical fertilisers have dropped sharply on last year due to low rice prices and competition from organic and homemade alternatives, industry experts said.
The Ye Tak Group last year imported 7,000 tonnes of high-quality chemical fertilisers from Vietnam. Owner Ye Tak said prices are down 70 percent.
"Last year my company sold chemical fertilisers such as urea, N-P-K and DAP for between US$650 and $1,300 per tonne, but those prices have dropped to between $280 and $400 per tonne," he said, adding that sales quantities are also down.
His experiences were echoed by Cheam Tech, whose Cheam Tech Company last year sold 50 tonnes of chemical fertilisers daily. It imported urea, N-P-K and DAP chemical fertilisers from Thailand, Vietnam and China for between $550 and $750 per tonne and sold them at between $650 and $1,250 per tonne, said Cheam Tech.
Last year, farmers seemed unconcerned by the prices, but that has changed, she added. Now her firm sells 20 tonnes a day for $180-$200 a tonne.
Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), attributed the decline to his NGO's work to raise awareness of the cost and benefits of natural fertilisers.
"Some farmers can save 50 percent on chemical fertilisers simply by collecting kitchen waste, leaves and animal excrement to make their own compost," he said.
Another importer, Chhun Kang, owner of Ex-M Cambodia, said fertiliser prices are down because the cost of raw materials is lower and because some governments such as China and the Philippines have abolished taxation on the export of fertiliser in the face of the global economic crisis.
Ex-M Cambodia is importing 1,000 tonnes of organic fertiliser from Belgium this year, down two-thirds from 2008. Although it is 40 percent cheaper than chemical fertiliser and can generate better yields, Chhun Kang said it has struggled to sell well this year.
"That's because the price of paddy rice in the local and international markets is low, which means farmers cut their fertiliser inputs," he said.