A dramatic slump in glyphosate imports this year

Buenos Aires, September 10th. The last weekly RIA Consultores’ report brings a sensible data: imports of glyphosate down from 27,676 tons Jan-Jul 2017 to 11,846 tons in the same time this year, i.e. an interannual 52% drop. These imports correspond to “technical grade” used by industry to obtain the formulated product, then selling to farmers.

The report summarizes that in the last three years, technical grade glyphosate imports were down from 33,337 tons (Jan-Jul) in 2015 to the current 11,846 tons. Instead of this, imports of the precursor pmida (phosphonomethyl iminodiacetic acid), used by industry to synthesize the herbicide were also down but at a lower rate. During the Jan-Jul 2018 period, it was imported 46,528 tons versus 57,113 in 2017 and 60,496 tons in 2017.

Glyphosate is the most popular chemical used by Argentinean farmers. It estimated that a half of the chemical market in the country is held by this non-selective herbicide.

“There could be some many factors that explain this dramatic drop in technical grade glyphosate imports”, start saying Fernando Galdós, manager of Agrofacil, an industry based near Buenos Aires City, that formulate chemicals for itself and for third parties. “One of them is the loss of effectiveness of glyphosate against resistant weeds. To many farmers, now, it is preferable using other herbicides that can solve them this rising problem”, Galdós opines. “Also, the industry could have had high remaining stocks from previous years, and a lower necessity of imports this year”, adds in dialogue with www.eFarmNewsAr.com.

But other executives in the local agrochemicals market are seeing economic reasons in this phenomena. “There is a lack of profitability in the glyphosate operation”, Miguel Seara, Sales Manager at Gleba, opines. “In one extreme, there is a high volatility in the price of the raw material that can misplace you, while in the other extreme there is an aggressive and a competitive market that conducts to lower prices for farmers. This has made that many suppliers discontinued the glyphosate operation”, adds.

According to both sources glyphosate (48%) reach dealers around US$3.80/3.90 a liter. Price to the farmers adds a 5% to 10% margin for distributors.

“It was not possible to copy the rise in the suppliers (Chinese) costs and transfer them to the final product”, the Commercial Manager of Agrofina, Carlos Lamas, says. “For example, premium formulations should be 40 to 50 cents (dollars) higher than now. Thus, we decided to reduce sales of glyphosate to a half due to the lack of profitability”, Lamas comments.

But, why pmida imports are not downing like technical grade do it? Some sources of www.eFarmNewsAr.com think that large players that operate in the synthesis of glyphosate starting from pmida, are prioritizing the full process instead of combine synthesis with formulating via technical grade imports.

Financial issues are other reasons that depress glyphosate business. It happens that Chinese suppliers give importers 180 days of financing, but dealer’s channel and farmers in Argentina want 270 days of payment deadline, an unsuitable condition for the industry, considering that annual interest rate in Pesos (AR$) surpasses 60 percent. “Think about this: you go the bank with checks for $100 and come back to the office with cash for $40”, it laments one of the sources.

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