How does the scarcity of urea affects food production

How does the scarcity of urea affects food production

The chemical compound is on the list of scarce products worldwide, and it is likely to impact supply chains

< 1 minute read

A period of scarcity of urea – a key compound for crops – is likely to cause setbacks to food production.

According to an article from BBC Brasil the lack of the compound has already been felt in some countries including India, South Korea and Australia. 

Farmers and truck drivers are more sensible to the issue, though it might affect all consumers. 

What is urea?

Besides other sources, urea is found in human urine. As an industrial product, the chemical compound is meant for different purposes, including as soil fertilizer, and as an ingredient in a product that reduces the issue of pollutants in diesel vehicles.


Urea is one the most popular fertilizers, and its scarcity is linked to surges in prices, the highest in a more than a decade , according the World Bank.

Some key factors have been impairing the price of the product, such as cost of energy – specially gas, essential for producing the fertilizer , rise in exchange rates, and increasing demand. 

One of the most sensible regions for the rise of prices and scarcity of urea is actually India, the world’s main importer of the product. A huge agricultural sector representing 15% of the country’s economy, and employing 60% of its workforce, consumes some 35 million tons of urea per year, out of which 30% is imported. Now, Indian farmers fear that their livelihood is endangered. 

Prices under pressure

According to the BBC’s article, the world Bank estates that the issue will impact the prices of food.

“High prices of fertilizers might put inflationary pressure over food prices, rising concerns about food security in a moment that the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change halt the access to food.”