7. Trends in Production and Consumption of Agricultural Chemicals
7.1 Fertilizers

There are three major categories of fertilizers: those providing crops with nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. The FAO, in collaboration with industry associations and others, reviewed global fertilizer markets in 2010, and developed forecasts of expected trends in these markets over the period 2010-2014.
As shown in Table 12, in 2009, East Asia was the largest consumer of all three classes of fertilizers, accounting for 41 per cent of global nitrogen consumption, 37 per cent of global phosphate consumption, and 31 per cent of global potash consumption. South Asia was the next largest, accounting for 19, 22, and 17 per cent of global consumption of the three fertilizer types, respectively.
FAO also developed estimates of likely trends in fertilizer consumption in the period 2009 to 2014. FAO estimated that world consumption of fertilizer would grow 2.6 per cent per year in the period 2010 to 2014. As shown in Table 13, the highest rates of growth are expected in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Africa and Central Europe (4.6, 3.8, 3.6, and 3.5 per cent, respectively, compound annual growth rates).
7.2 Pesticides
According to CropLife International, an industry association, the total value of the global agricultural pesticide market (including herbicides, inseccides, fungicides and others) was nearly US$ 38 billion in 2009. Herbicides accounted for the largest proportion of the global market, as shown in Table 14. An industry research firm, the Freedonia Group, projects that this market will continue to grow, reaching US$ 52 billion by 2014.
In 2009, North America accounted for the largest percentage of global pescide expenditure, followed closely by the Asia/Pacific region (27 and 24 per cent, respectively). Central and South America and Western Europe accounted for 19 and 17 per cent of expenditure , respectively.
Looking forward to 2014, analysts predict that the most rapid growth in pesticide expenditure will occur in Central and South America. Pesticide consumption in Africa and the Middle East is also expected to grow rapidly, although total consumption in the region will continue to be small compared to that in other regions.
FAO maintains a database of individual countries’ reports on pesticide use and consumption . Most countries have submitted data only haphazardly, making it difficult to develop meaningful comparisons among countries or regions using this database.
7.2.1 Herbicides
Herbicides account for the largest percentage of expenditure on pescides worldwide, due primarily to large expenditure in developed countries. However, their use in developing countries is increasing as well. The global market in herbicides is highly concentrated, with a handful of multinational companies accounng for the vast majority of herbicide sales. Adoption of herbicides in developing countries is often associated with a package of agricultural inputs including fertilizers and inseccides.
In some countries, herbicide use has been influenced significantly by the adoption of genetically modified crops that are designed to be grown in combination with specific herbicides. The US is the largest user of genetically modified crops, but they have been adopted in a number of developing countries and countries with economies in transition as well. Brazil has the second largest acreage of genetically modified crops, followed by Argentina and India. An analysis of US Department of Agriculture data by a NGO indicates that over time, use of genetically modified herbicide resistant crops has been associated with a significant increase in herbicide use.
There are ten major groups of herbicides based on synthetic organic molecules: “amides, arsenicals, carbamates and thiocarbamates, carboxylic acids and derivatives, dinitroanilines, hetercyclic nitrogen herbicides, organophosphates, phenyl ethers, urea herbicides, and quaternary and other herbicides.” A small number of inorganic chemicals are also sometimes used as herbicides. Herbicides have a range of types of action , including selective and nonselective activity. Some also act as inseccides.
7.2.2 Insecticides
Important classes of insecticides include chlorinated hydrocarbons (organochlorines), carbamates, organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids. Examples of organochlorine inseccides include DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, toxaphene, chlordane, heptachlor, lindane, endosulfan and dicofol. A number of these insecticides have been classified as POPs under the Stockholm Convention. Efforts to reduce the use of organochlorine insecticides have, in some cases, led to increased use of organophosphate insecticides as an alternative. In some instances organophosphates have, in turn, given way to newer synthetic pyrethroid insecticides. One of the factors driving change in insecticide markets over time is the development of insect resistance to specific chemicals. A factor influencing over-all insecticide use rates is the fact that some pyrethroid insecticides are effective at lower volumes than the chemicals they frequently replace. Some uses of organochlorine insecticides persist; this is a trend of significant concern even at low volumes, due to the long persistence of these chemicals in the environment.
7.2.3 Fungicides
Fungicides include both inorganic compounds such as sulfur and copper compounds, and a variety of organic compounds; the principal categories of organic compounds used as fungicides are anilines/anilides, dithiocarbamates, halogenated compounds and heterocyclic nitrogen compounds. Fungicides are used in a variety of agricultural applications, including cultivation of peanuts, cotton and a variety of fruit and vegetable crops.
7.2.4 Trends in Pesticide Use in Africa
Africa accounts for only a small proportion of global expenditure on pesticides. However, the conditions under which pesticides are used in Africa can lead to significant hazardous exposures. This section provides an overview of trends in pesticide expenditure in Africa and the Middle East, because data for the two regions are often combined. It then provides information on pesticide use trends in South Africa, the largest pesticide user in Africa, and in Nigeria, which also has substantial pesticide use in comparison with other African countries. Finally, this section briefly summarizes the findings of studies of pesticide use in selected African countries that are characterized by widespread subsistence farming. Actual volumes of pesticides use in these countries are low, but management practices associated with subsistence farming raise particular concerns that differ from those associated with larger-scale agriculture.
Broad trend information is available for Africa and the Middle East together. Total agricultural output of Africa and the Middle East increased 43 per cent over the period 1999 to 2009, and is projected to continue increasing, with a projected growth of 35 per cent over the decade from 2009 to 2019. Pesticide use has also increased over this period, and is projected to continue to increase. Interestingly , expenditures on pesticides per unit of value gained through agricultural production have increased and are projected to continue increasing to 2019, indicating some decline in effciency of these expenditures.
Total expenditures on pesticides increased 61 per cent over the period 1999 to 2009, from US$ 1.1 billion to US$ 1.9 billion. These expenditures are projected to increase another 44 per cent over the period 2009 to 2019, reaching a total of about US$ 2.7 billion in 2019.
Although herbicides account for the largest proportion of pesticide expenditures globally, in Africa and the Middle East insecticides dominate. In 1999, nearly half of all pesticide expenditures in the region were accounted for by insecticides. By 2019, the balance is expected to have shifted somewhat. Insecticides will still be the largest category of pesticide expenditures, but the portion devoted to herbicides, fungicides and other categories of pesticides will have increased, as shown in Table 15.
It is worth noting that information on pesticide expenditures may lead to underestimates of total pesticide use in Africa compared with use in other parts of the world. A report by the NGO Pesticide Action Network, notes that farmers in developing countries frequently purchase older pesticides products due to the fact that they are generally less expensive. Pesticide producing countries may also sell their products at relatively inexpensive prices in developing countries. Thus, information on pesticide sales may downplay the volume of pesticides sold and used in developing countries. These older and inexpensive pesticides may also be some of the most hazardous pesticides on the market
South Africa is the largest consumer of pesticide s in Africa, accounting for 2 per cent of global pesticide consumption. Total pesticide expenditures in South Africa rose 59 per cent over the period 1999 to 2009, and are projected to rise another 55 per cent in the period 2009 to 2019 (Table 15). Expenditures on pesticides per unit value of agricultural production have also risen and are predicted to continue rising over the forecast period.
Insecticide expenditures increased 25 per cent over the period 1999 to 2009, and are projected to increase another 43 per cent over the period 2009 to 2019, to a total of US$ 50 million in 2019. Herbicide expenditures have increased more rapidly, rising 68 per cent from 1999 to 2009 and are projected to rise 54 per cent from 2009 to 2019, to a total of US$ 57 million in 2019. Fungicide expenditure account for a smaller portion of the total, but have increased most rapidly, rising 125 per cent over the period 1999 to 2009 and projected to increase another 72 per cent over the period 2009 to 2019.