Role of Urea Fertilizers in Maintaining National Food Security

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Topik Pembahasan

Fertilizers have an important role in realizing national food security. Without fertilizers, food production in Indonesia could be hampered and could lead to a food crisis. One type of fertilizer that is widely used in food crops is urea

The importance of urea to the agricultural sector makes the Indonesian government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, provides subsidies for agricultural urea products so that the selling price is lower for farmers. This is regulated in the Decree of Minister of Trade and Industry No. 70/MPP/Kep/2/2003 dated February 11, 2003 concerning the Procurement and Distribution of Subsidized Fertilizers for the Agricultural Sector. 

Urea, also called nitrogen (N) fertilizer, contains 46 percent nitrogen. It is produced through a reaction process between ammonia (NH3) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in a chemical process to form a solid urea in the form of granules. 

Among the benefits of urea fertilizer for plants are:

– To improve the quality of leaf-producing plants

– As a constituent of protein, chlorophyll and plays a role in the process of photosynthesis 

– To help the formation or growth of vegetative parts, such as leaves, stems, and roots. 

– To increase the activity of microorganisms in the soil which is very important for weathering organic matters. 

PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur (PKT) produces urea fertilizers under Daun Buah brand in the form of granules and prills for the non-subsidized sector, while the subsidized urea is distributed under Pupuk Indonesia Holding Company brand.  

Daun Buah Urea Granules

Daun Buah urea granules have white color and large-size granules, in the range of 2-4.75 mm. The fertilizer contains 46 percent nitrogen and is produced in 2 kg, 5 kg, 10 kg, 20 kg and 50 kg packages. Urea granules are more suitable for plantation and industrial segments. 

Daun Buah Urea Prills

Daun Buah urea prills are characterized by its white color and smaller particles, in the range of 1-3.35 mm. The fertilizer also contains 46 percent nitrogen and is produced in 2 kg, 5 kg, 10 kg, 20 kg and 50 kg packages. It is most widely used for food crops and industries.

Both Daun Buah urea granules and urea prills have significant advantages over other types of fertilizers: 

– Easily soluble in soil so they are easily absorbed by plants 

– Urea granules are given anti-caking treatment so they don’t clump easily. 

Urea Pupuk Indonesia

Urea Pupuk Indonesia has the shape of granules with a pink color. The minimum nitrogen content in this fertilizer is 46 percent, the maximum biuret content is 1 percent, and the sizes of the prills are in the range of 1-3.35 mm. This subsidized urea is produced in a 50 kg packaging. 

Production of Urea Fertilizers by PKT

Pupuk Kaltim owns five urea plants, Plant 1A, Plant 2, Plant 3, Plant 4, and Plant 5. The prill-type urea products are produced by Plants 2 and 3, while granule-type products are produced by Plants 1A, 4, and 5. The production capacity of the five plants reaches 3.43 million tons of urea per year.

During the first quarter of 2021, PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur (PKT) recorded that it has produced 904,91 tons of urea fertilizer, 55,761 tons of NPK, and 751,685 tons of ammonia. This is in line with the company’s commitment to maintain national food security. 

PKT has distributed its production to eight areas of responsibility, namely, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, Gorontalo, Central Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, South Sulawesi and West Sulawesi. 

Until April 30, 2021, PKT has distributed 320,077 tons of urea subsidies. Based on the allocation in the Decree of Minister of Agriculture in 2021 the realization has only reached 32 percent. As for the subsidized NPK in the amount of  60,728 tons, the realization has reached 30 percent. 

Subsidized Urea

During the same period, the company has provided 190,089 tons of subsidized urea stock, 75,226 tons of non-subsidized stock, 7,265 tons of subsidized NPK, and 6,142 tons of non-subsidized NPK. 

President Director of PKT Rahmad Pribadi said the role of PKT in the production and distribution of fertilizers is synergized with other players in the food sector, and becomes an important element in maintaining national food security. 

“But not only that, we also ensure that fertilizer distribution plays an important role in supporting farmer productivity and the success of planting season, as well as maintaining the national economy during the Covid-19 pandemic. The current Covid-19 pandemic becomes a momentum that increasingly motivates us to continue to carry out this commitment,” said Rahmat in a press release, May 10, 2021.

PKT Supports Diversification of Foodstuffs

PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur (PKT) also utilizes the latest innovations to meet people’s food needs, one of which is by utilizing foodstuffs to anticipate crises through the provision of alternative foods other than rice. 

This has been an effort made by the Ministry of Agriculture to support the development of food diversification, which focuses on six non-rice carbohydrate sources, namely, cassava, corn, sago, banana, potato, and sorghum. 

The benefits of food diversification are improving soil quality and reducing pests and diseases. The effort is also optimized by optimizing paddy fields through an integrated farming method that integrates agriculture and livestock, through a zero waste concept pattern by maximizing existing potential. 

PKT Guards Fertilizer Distribution

As a fertilizer producer, PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur (PKT) is obliged to ensure the availability and smooth distribution of fertilizers, especially subsidized fertilizers. 

Therefore, PKT always provides subsidized fertilizer stock that is sufficient for the needs of each distribution area in accordance with government regulations which are periodically stipulated through the Decree of the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Indonesia. 

PKT also fulfills the six (Right) principles in regulating the procurement and distribution of fertilizers, namely, the Right Type, Right Quantity, Right Price, Right Place, Right Time, and Right Quality. 

As an attempt to ensure the availability and smooth distribution of fertilizers, the distribution process is carried out through four distribution lines: 

–Line I, is a place for storing fertilizers belonging to fertilizer producers or a place for unloading and storing imported fertilizers before sent to Line II 

– Line II, is a fertilizer storage warehouse or fertilizer bagging unit at the provincial level owned by producers before distributed to Line III 

– Line III, is a fertilizer storage warehouse at the district/city level either owned by producers or authorized distributors for distribution to Line IV

– Line IV, is an official retailer fertilizer storage place that sells fertilizers to farmers.