"We are aiming to soon supply at least 80% of the Argentinian demand for urea, with any excess going to the Brazilian market."
2021 is the 20th anniversary of Profertil. Can you explain the evolution of the company in recent years?
Celebrating 20 years of production is a significant milestone for Profertil. We started producing 1,1 million mt/y of urea in 2001, but increased our capacity in 2015 and are now able to produce 1.3 million mt/y. Now we are ready to expand Profertil’s operations again, and have developed a project to double our urea production capacity. The drivers behind the decision to increase production is the Latin American fertilizer market which is growing incrementally, especially in Brazil and Argentina, and the availability of competitively priced raw material and natural gas in Argentina.
Throughout these years we have reached several milestones that demonstrate our company's commitment to sustainability. For example, we were one of the first companies in the country to certify the ISO 50001 energy efficiency standard and we developed a project that allowed us to increase our granulated urea production capacity by 11%, self-generating 24% of the plant's electricity and reducing the amount of natural resources required for each ton of product. Closer to home, in 2020 we reached a major milestone: 60% of the energy we consume comes from renewable sources, specifically wind power.
What is the situation in Argentina with regard to the domestic demand for urea?
When Profertil started production, we were supplying approximately 90% of urea demand and nearly 50% of production was exported. Local demand has increased significantly over the past 20 years and today we can only supply between 55% and 60% of the urea demand in Argentina, which reached 2.2 million mt/y in 2020. Argentina is thus required to import approximately 1 million mt/y of urea today, and if the fertilizer market continues to grow at a rate of 3% per year, even our increased production capacity will not be enough to meet the demand. We are aiming to soon supply at least 80% of the Argentinian demand, with any excess going to the Brazilian market.
Can you explain how Profertil trains farmers in the optimization of fertilizer use practices, soil resource care and productive system sustainability?
It is important not to overdose with fertilizers since what is not captured by the soil could ultimately affect the environment. We live by the 4Rs concept, which consists of four requirements for responsible nutrient management. We thus train our customer farmers to utilize the right source of nutrients, in the right dose, at the right time and in the right place.
We do this specifically through several training programs that we have been carrying out. We have held events throughout the country, reaching thousands of producers in different areas of Argentina.
This year we have also started an innovative cycle to train the agricultural sector on occupational safety issues, since we detected that this was a very relevant item for producers and Profertil has a lot of experience in working with the safety of people, facilities and the environment.
Profertil’s goal is to promote sustainable agriculture to increase food production in an economically feasible way, while maintaining the ecological integrity of food systems.
We develop products with applied technology to ensure sustainability. For instance, we generate granulated urea with nitrogen volatilization inhibitors, which represents an important benefit in terms of greenhouse gas mitigation. We also developed the automotive-grade urea solution for large diesel vehicles, which is aligned with the strictest international standards.
Since 2014, Profertil’s commitment to sustainability has been embodied in the company’s participation in the United Nations Global Compact, which gives rise to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
What would you like to achieve with Profertil by 2025?
We expect to make a final investment decision on our expansion plans by the end of 2021. The project timeline is approximately three years, and by 2025 our increased capacity will be online. While developing that project, we expect to make significant impact in the communities where we operate, which are mainly four cities in Argentina, other than Buenos Aires, where we have the administrative offices. We work tireless to strengthen bounds with our neighbors, developing long term projects aiming to improve quality of life of the whole community.