KARACHI - The year-on-year based growth in fertilizer off-take in the country soared by 16 per cent during the first four months of current calendar year 2009. Fertilizer off-take has also registered a significant growth of 20 percent in the month of April, 2009 on account of strong demand of DAP and urea in the market. During January-April 2009, fertilizer off-take stood at 2.5 million tons as against 2.1 million tons of last year. According to the latest fertilizer data released by the National Fertilizer Development Centre (NFDC), fertilizer off-take for the month of April 2009 has showed an upward trend as increased to 562k due to lower prices of DAP coupled with its better support price being offered by the Federal government in a bid to provide some degree of relief to farmers for reviving the performance of the agriculture sector. Moreover, NDFC statistics showed that the DAP off-take remained strong in April 2009, as lower DAP prices with better support prices helped DAP off-take to touch at 49k tons, up a massive 722 percent YoY. Resultantly, off-take in 4M-2009 reached 239k tons, showing 142 percent YoY growth during the period under review. Despite higher prices up to 23 percent YoY to Rs690/bag, urea off-take continued its up trend to 422k tons, depicting 8 percent acceleration in growth on YoY, in April 2009. As a result, the total off-take swelled by 9 percent to 2.0 million tons during Jan-Apr 2009. It must be noted that according to the cyclical nature of the fertilizer utilisation, the months of April and May are considered dull period for the fertilizer demand as procurement activity for the Rabi seasons kicks off around June while procurement for Kharif is generally completed during the first quarter. The urea off-take is expected to increase around 5.9 million tons while growth is envisaged at 8 percent YoY whereas DAP is likely to witness a major jump of 40 percent with a probable off-take of 1.1 million tons. Analysts are of the views that the federal governments persistent focus on the agriculture sector would bode well for the fertilizer off-take outlook in 2009 and beyond. This coupled with low DAP prices around $330/ton (down 71pc from peak) is likely to ensure significantly higher off-take on year-on-year basis. Analysts believe, high DAP off-take would ensure better fertilizer mix in the months to follow. The mix was deteriorated during last year due to delayed subsidy announcement and uncertainty regarding support prices. The urea to DAP ratio rose to 7:1 in 2008 as against a prescribed ratio of 3:1 therefore, on the back of stable DAP price outlook, there has to be a robust DAP consumption during upcoming months, which would help to sustain bumper crop for next year. This could be a welcome boost to agriculture and economy. Analysts predict the urea off-take is expected to take u-turn from June onwards once the Rabi season sowing kicks in.