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These are challenging times for SA farmers, whether viewed from the perspective of rising input costs or the weather outlook. In a few weeks the 2018-2019 summer crop production season will start on a negative note, partly due to rising costs of agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and fuel. SA fertiliser prices were up an average 20% in August compared with the corresponding period in 2017, according to data from Grain SA. Given that SA imports about 80% of its annual fertiliser consumption and is also a small player in the global market, accounting for a mere 0.5%, local prices tend to be influenced by developments in the major producing and consuming countries, such as India, Russia, the US and Canada. In the past few months global fertiliser prices rose, partly due to rising demand in Latin America and Asia, among other regions. The rand-dollar exchange rate and shipping costs are also important determinants of SA fertiliser prices. The rand has come under much pressure in rec...

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