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India May Use 4.55 Million Tons of Potash in Year Ending March

India, the world’s biggest potash importer, may use 4.55 million metric tons of the soil nutrient in the year ending March to boost yields of rice, fruit and vegetables, K.V. Thomas, junior agriculture minister said.

The nation needed 4.38 million tons of potash a year earlier, Thomas said in a written reply in parliament. The South Asian nation imports its entire requirement of potash.

Buyers including Indian Potash Ltd. will offer a maximum $370 a metric ton for the year ending March to sellers such as International Potash Co., 5.7 percent more than the price agreed by China for its 2010 purchases, two government officials said last month. India paid $460 a ton last fiscal year.

Global prices of the soil nutrient, used to increase yields of rice, fruit and vegetables, have declined from a high of $1,000 a ton in 2008 as supply outpaced demand and grain prices fell.

Israel Chemicals Ltd., also known as ICL, on March 22 agreed to sell 430,000 tons of potash to India, in addition to the 1 million tons announced earlier. The fertilizer will be sold for $370 per ton, the company said.

India was the biggest potash importer last year, according to Fertecon, a Tunbridge Wells, England-based fertilizer consultant. It imported 5.09 million tons, while Brazil bought 3.57 million tons and China 1.59 million tons.

OAO Uralkali’s trader Belarusian Potash Co. agreed last month to ship 900,000 tons of potash to India before March 2011, at $370 a ton including shipping, the Russian company said.

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