On 24 February 2022, the world stood still and gasped at the news that Russia had begun an invasion of Ukraine, escalating the Russo-Ukrainian War that started following the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity in 2014. In the morning, Putin announced a “special military operation”, missiles and airstrikes were deployed on Ukraine, followed by a large ground invasion, which the world is calling an ‘act of aggression’.
As the world seeks ways to penalise Russia for its actions, targeting Russian oligarchs and cronies with sanctions, global agriculture is also suffering crippling penalties from this war. Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine is not only causing significant disruption to food supply chains, driving up food prices around the world, but it’s also causing a surge in fertiliser prices and putting more pressure on farmers.
The war in Ukraine is creating many challenges for farmers, with the most significant being the rising fertiliser costs due to higher gas prices. The disruption to gas exports from Russia is ramping up production costs, sending fertiliser prices to highs of almost £1,000 per tonne, an increase of over 50% since January 2022.
The UK produces part of the fertilisers needs, but this only equates to around 50% of our fertiliser needs. This has sparked fears of farmers having to offset the increasing price of fertiliser by buying less than their usual requirements, potentially causing lower crop production levels or, worse, causing many British food producers to shut down. Russia is the world’s biggest exporter of synthetic fertilisers and Europe’s most significant source of natural gas, which makes up 80% of nitrogen fertiliser. Restrictions on Russian exports and supplies will have a fundamental impact on the sustainability of European farmers.
In just the last few years, the world has suffered several life-changing events, including the escalation of climate change, the global pandemic, and the increase in European gas prices. All these events have played a big part in exposing the underlying weaknesses in our food system and renewed the urgency for change.
At FA Bio, we discover superior microbial-based, environmentally sustainable alternatives to conventional agrochemical products. We use revolutionary soil and water microbial analyses facilitated by innovative and patented technology. Our aim is to minimise soil degradation, biodiversity destruction and water pollution whilst improving crop yields to guarantee food security.
FA Bio’s new superior microbes can deliver active ingredients for bioproducts and support regenerative agriculture practices. There are many key drivers for using biological products in agriculture, including regulations and the global environment, but most recently, the increasing cost of producing synthetic fertilisers is pushing many in the industry to look for sustainable alternatives.
Our strategy utilises our patented technology to discover and develop a library of crop-specific soil microorganisms from which we identify the microbial active ingredients that can be developed into biocontrol, biostimulant and biofertiliser products cost-effectively and efficiently. By harnessing nature’s microbial response to different environments, something not possible using traditional methods, we can help farmers understand the soil microbial communities and help drive key agronomy decisions, improving their sustainability and productivity.
In 2021, FA Bio fundraised a seed investment round to grow the business and deliver our mission, to help the adoption of regenerative agriculture through the discovery of microbial bioproducts. Microbes and plants are intimate partners in every life process and can help feed the world. Only by providing alternative solutions to agrochemical products can we revolutionise agriculture and sustain life.
Angela de Manzanos Guinot, CEO at FA Bio