Fertilisers constitute a commodity grouping of major importance to seaborne trade, being carried throughout the year around the world both in bulk, in bagged, and in liquid condition. The trade comprises three distinct movements – that of natural fertiliser directly from source to regions of use and, secondly, to industrial areas where the base commodity is mixed with other products into compound fertiliser; followed by the third movement, the onward distribution of the artificial product to eventual destinations. Since raw fertiliser in its natural state is widespread; many regions have the industrial capacity to manufacture compound product of one type or another; and there is worldwide demand for both natural and artificial fertiliser to enhance crop production, (he trade is of continuous year long importance, sufficient in fact to justify its own set of Fertiliser Charterparties:
a) Chamber of Shipping Fertiliser Charterparty 1942 (Amended 1950) – FERTICON (extensively used for Government imports into India)
b) North American Fertiliser Charterparty 1978 – FERTIVOY and Phosphate CIP – FOSFO (used for appropriate cargoes ex North America)
c) Phosphate Charterparty 1950 – AFRICANPHOS (used for phosphate exports from North Africa – principally ex Morocco)
d) Dutch Fertiliser Charterparty 1950 (Revised 1973) – FERTIDUTCH (covering exports of artificial fertiliser ex Europe).
Other charterparties specialised for corporations and/or trades are to be found, whilst much fertiliser is moved on general trades forms such as the GENCON. A great deal of fertiliser – especially in its natural state – is moved in bulk, but certain regions lack the sophisticated port facilities and/or infrastructure capable of handling such bulk commodities and, consequently, exports to these areas must be bagged. Bagged fertiliser is invariably quite safe to carry, but the transportation of certain natural and compound fertilisers in bulk may cause corrosion or other carriage problems. Most, however, are entitled to the widely-used charterparty description: “harmless fertiliser in bulk/bags”.