Fertilizer data in FAOSTAT
Concepts and definitions
Used for crop production
The 'Used for crop production' concept refers to the total quantity of fertilizers applied to the soil to increase crop yields. Used for crop production is here referred to as 'Actual Consumption' and is defined as actual deliveries to agriculture by the manufacturers or actual quantity consumed by a country for agriculture production.
Fertilizer Resource Utilization Account (FRUA)
The Fertilizer Resource Utilization Account format provides a summary of: Production, Imports, Exports, Non-Fertilizer use and Consumption for the three plant nutrients nitrogenous (N), phosphate (P205) and potash. (K20).
The equation used in the accounting format is seen below:
Production (P) + Imports (M) - Exports (X) - Non-Fertilizer use (NF)= Consumption (C)
P + M – X – NF = C
When data is not known for either fertilizer production or consumption, then the other items are used to derive the residual data. When this occurs, the data is labelled as apparent (e.g. apparent production). When the import or export data are not available, then mirror trade flows are used to estimate the data (see Trade flow matrix section).
The summary N, P205, and K20 totals for the items in the Fertilizer Resource Utilization Account are based on the following scenarios:
- Production P = (– M) + X + NF + C
Production = -(Imports) + Exports + Non-fertilizer use + Consumption
When the data of a country are all available then P = the country actual production; M = actual imports, X = actual exports, C =actual consumption and NF = actual Non-fertilizer use.
- Production with mirror imports P = (- mM) + X + NF + C
Production = - (Mirror imports) + Exports + Non-fertilizer use + Consumption
The concept of mirror imports is applied as proxy for a country actual imports figures, for example, when all the characteristics of the variables satisfying the equation are official data (as is formulated in equation a) but the reported information on a given year for imports is not in harmony with current trend. In such a case, all countries exporting such a commodity to that country will be recorded, reviewed and analysed. The result is referred to as mirror imports (mM).
- Production with mirror exports P = (- M) + mX + NF + C
Production = - (Imports) + Mirror exports (mX) + Non-fertilizer use + Consumption
The concept of mirror exports is applied as a proxy for a country actual exports figures, for example, when all the characteristics of the variables satisfying the equation are official data (as is formulated in equation a) but the reported information on a given year for exports is not in harmony with current trend. In such a case, all countries importing such a commodity from that country will be recorded, reviewed and analysed. The results of such analysis are referred to as mirror exports (mX).
- Apparent Consumption AC = P + M – NF - X)
Apparent consumption = Production + Imports - Non-fertilizer use - Exports
Apparent consumption figures are developed based on the underlying assumption that supply equals consumption. However, actual apparent consumption may be underestimated due to the following:
• Non-fertilizer use assumed to be zero in the absence of data;
• Stocks of fertilizer assumed to be zero or stable;
• Country imports or exports of fertilizer data not available and assumed to be zero.
Due to diverse country practices on the collection, compilation and reporting of fertilizer data, the application of the apparent consumption equation in the FRUA may occasionally produce a negative balance. In such cases it is assumed that country consumption depended on available fertilizer stocks. If country consumption results into a negative balance the negative balance is set to zero“0” with a flag (Z) indicating the adjustment. It is normal practice for countries not to disclose data on stocks, so they are assumed to be stable. For example, a non producing country imports for a calendar year may be of a low magnitude but at the same time reporting high consumption. In such a scenario, it is assumed that country consumption is depended on stock of some mineral fertilizers that have not been used previously.
- Apparent Production AP = X + C - NF - M
Apparent production = Exports + Used for crop production (actual consumption) - Non-fertilizer use - Imports
When consumption data is available for a country, but actual production is not available or is not considered reliable, the apparent production data is derived. Apparent consumption figures are developed based on the underlying assumption that actual consumption and movement in trade equals the availability of domestic production. Reasons for distortion in the actual apparent production calculated may be due to the following:
• Non-fertilizer use assumed to be zero (in the absence of data).
• Stock assumed to be zero or stable.
• Production data for the years under review not available.
Trade flow matrix
A Trade flow matrix is a statistical cross tabulation of all trade flows (imports and exports) between trading partners. For example, the imports of mineral fertilizers for a country are equal to the exports of countries that export mineral fertilizers to it. When data is missing for imports or exports for a country, then the counterpart country trade flow data are used as estimates.
Mirror trade (Mirror imports, Mirror exports)
Mirror trade information, as indicated in FRAU equations b and c, is used as proxy in order to adjust imports or exports data for those countries reporting figures that are inconsistent, low or high and missing data.
- Mirror imports (mM) - the estimation of mirror imports for any particular commodity- for example, all countries export figures for such a commodity to country X are analysed and summed as a proxy for country X total imports.
- Mirror exports mX) - the estimation of mirror exports for any particular commodity - for example, all countries import figures for such a commodity to country X are analysed and summed as a proxy for country X total exports.
Specific issues on fertilizer statistics
Commodity aggregates (totals)
As far as possible the data provided by individual countries through the fertilizer resources questionnaire are considered official for computing and summarizing the various level aggregates. In the case where official data are not available from the country for certain products or certain years, reliable information from other sources are used for the period not covered by official data. The details of individual countries data are analysed for building a harmonized trend in the time series on total production, imports, exports, and consumption in nutrient contents for the three types of straight fertilizers - N, P205 and K20.
Country aggregates (regional totals)
Continental and regional aggregates only include data for reporting countries.
Double counting and intermediate use
Country fertilizer data is carefully scrutinized in an attempt to eliminate any products intended for intermediate use (straight fertilizers and ammonium phosphate domestically produced or imported are often used to manufacture other fertilizers) thus avoiding double counting.
For example, ammonia which is sometimes exported may be at times be incorporated in the production figures of the country. Country data is examined to identify and eliminate (whenever possible) from its production data, such imports that would otherwise inflate overall country production figures.
In principle, only Rock phosphate and Ammonia reported for direct application is included in the fertilizer totals.
The main source of data is the FAO Questionnaire on Agricultural Resources – Fertilizers sent to countries and it can be found in the ESS Website, Agro-Environmental Indicators section, http://www.fao.org/economic/ess/ess-agri/ess-resource-meth/en/.
Additional data sources may include: national publications, national websites, publications and Yearbooks related to group of countries, country project reports, studies available in other FAO Divisions, economic journals, country trade data received from custom departments and data discussed with industry experts. The main additional source of trade data is the United Nations Statistics Division COMTRADE database. In the case of COMTRADE data, import for technical use of products might be included. Further details on the technical methodology used for production data in the FAOSTAT Fertilizer dataset can be found in the 'Country notes for the Fertilizer module'.
The review and analysis starts from 2002. Some countries compile fertilizer data on a calendar year basis, while others are on a split-year basis (fertilizer year). For the purpose of data dissemination, the concept of a calendar year (January to December) has been adopted. Fertilizer data reported by a country following a split year basis will be treated on a calendar year basis, January to December. If a country data was reported produced, imported, exported or consumed, for example, in June 2004/July 2005, it will be recorded to represent the calendar year 2004.
Units of measurement
All figures are calculated in metric tons of plant nutrients. Nitrogen is generally expressed in the elemental form (N). Phosphate and Potash are expressed as the oxide form, P205 and K20.
The following table of commonly used conversion factors for fertilizers is the basis for data conversion of the data received through the FAO fertilizer resources questionnaire. It should be noted that nutrient contents might vary from country to country. The percentages given in the table below regarding commodity weight for individual fertilizers is a default technical conversation factor used in the case a country has failed to provide information on the process and utilization of data reported (countries are requested to provide their specific technical conversion factors if they differ from the default value).
|Calcium ammonium nitrate
|Urea and ammonium nitrate solutions
|Superphosphate above 35%
|Potassium chloride (Muriate of potash)
|Diammonium phosphate (DAP)
||18% N and 46% P205
|Monoammonium phosphate (MAP)
||11% N and 52% P205
|Other NP compounds
||20% N and 25% P205
||15% N, 15% P205 and 15% K20
||15% N, 15% P205 and 15% K20
||20% P205 and 25% K20
||13% N and 45% K20