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Export deal with India tipped to boost Morocco’s fertiliser industry

OCP, Morocco's state-owned fertiliser producer, runs a mine and factory at Boucraa, site of one of the largest phosphate deposits in the world Reuters/Youssef Boudlal
OCP, Morocco's state-owned fertiliser producer, runs a mine and factory at Boucraa, site of one of the largest phosphate deposits in the world
  • India’s minister of chemicals will visit Rabat on January 13-14
  • North African country is already one of world’s largest producers
  • Tie-up could lead to other long-term export agreements, analyst says

Morocco is set to sign a long-term agreement with India to export rock phosphate, a key ingredient in fertiliser.

The North African country is already one of the largest producers of phosphates and fertilisers, but the India deal is expected to lead to other agreements with governments around the world, according to an industry analyst.

New Delhi’s minister of chemicals and fertilisers, Mansukh Mandaviya, will visit Rabat this week, according to the news site Mint

Mandaviya said: “Morocco has huge reserves of phosphorus, which is an important element for production of fertilisers. Therefore, I am planning to visit Morocco from January 13-14 for signing a memorandum of understanding with them.”

He added: “Under the joint venture, both private and public players will do the mining, produce and bring the fertilisers to India.”

India imports up to 40 percent of the 50 million tonnes of fertiliser it needs each year. It has been hit by a sharp rise in prices since the invasion of Ukraine last February, which led to the disruption of supplies from Russia. Trade restrictions in China have also had an impact.

In December a senior UN official issued a warning on low Russian fertiliser exports. Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, said they were a “major concern” and the organisation was working on a solution in order to avoid food shortages this year.

A month earlier, at the G20 summit in Bali, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi also spoke out about the shortage, saying: “The current shortage of fertilisers in terms of food security is also a huge crisis. Today’s fertiliser shortage is tomorrow’s food crisis, for which the world will not have a solution.”

Ali Metwally, a London-based Mena economist and risk analyst at Infospectrum, told AGBI that any agreement between Rabat and New Delhi would be “very important” for both sides “given that India is heavily reliant on imported fertilisers, including from Morocco, to meet local demand”. 

He added: “Morocco, which is already a key player in the fertiliser trade, will benefit from securing a long-term supply agreement that would ensure a relatively stable income stream from a large consumer like India.”

The Indian deal could be followed by “long-term supply agreements” with EU members, Brazil and countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, Metwally cautioned that further agreements would depend on Morocco’s ability to expand its production capacity this year and in 2024.

He said: “Morocco has circa 70 percent of global phosphate reserves – 50 billion tonnes. Currently, it produces 12 million tonnes per annum and exports circa 10 million. Hence, there is already limited space for exports to new customers.

“That’s why the government aims to produce an additional 8.2 million tonnes per annum by 2026. This will allow Morocco to increase its global market share and expand its export revenue base.”