Rosier S.A. is a mineral fertilizer manufacturer based in Moustier, Belgium, and sells mineral fertilizers globally. Applied DNA, meanwhile, is a provider of molecular technologies that enable supply chain security, anti-counterfeiting and anti-theft technology, product genotyping and DNA mass production for diagnostics and therapeutics.
In September last year, both companies launched a pilot to DNA-tag fertilizer pellets in order to detect the dilution of fertilizer with substandard material within a given batch, and to be able to trace back to the original manufacturing location of said batch. Since this study began, Applied DNA says that, in partnership with Rosier, it has been able to effectively mark fertilizer pellets, and has successfully authenticated and detected fertilizer that has been diluted with unmarked material in a variety of laboratory and in-field tests over a period of nine months.
Applied DNA claims that a marked fertilizer shipment has travelled through the supply chain in West Africa, and pellets have been analysed in-field using the company’s SigNify® IF technology to provide real-time authentication of the SigNature® DNA marks, making that sure that the fertilizer had not been adulterated with unmarked material. These pellets were then tested and proven to be genuine. Applied DNA claims that demonstration of the technology gained further support for the use of molecular taggants to help deal with counterfeiting and to aid the number of countries that are impacted by adulterated fertilizer.
Adulterated fertilizer is a problem worldwide. The Vietnam Fertilizer Association, for instance, estimates that substandard fertilizer costs Vietnam US$2 billion/yr. In addition to this, 1000 metric tpy are seized for quality violations. Furthermore, in Uganda, a blind test revealed that urea on sale to farmers contained 33% less nitrogen than advertised and, in Tanzania, approximately 40% of fertilizers are estimated to be fake.
The Managing Director of Applied DNA Europe, Tony Benson, said: “Adulterated fertilizers have become a global supply chain problem of such impact, that bankers will no longer finance fertilizer purchases for some farmers. Without these necessary funds, farmers cannot purchase fertilizer, leading to poor or failing crop yields, and financial disaster for the farmer. Regional banks expressed a willingness to finance DNA-tagged fertilizers in the future, and praised our in-country demonstrations of the power of molecular tags to protect fertilizer supply chains against dilution.”
The President and CEO of Applied DNA, James Hayward, added: “The total addressable market for our platform in fertilizer is substantial, but well within our scalable capacity for global commercial ecosystems. Our manufacturing partner, Rosier, is well established, committed and familiar with the markets that will first pull our platform through fertilizer supply chains. We expect to identify initial customers and begin shipments of fertilizer with molecular tags in early 2018. We believe this is one of the most significant steps the global economy can take toward sustainable agronomy. Farming land where nutrient supplementation is in equilibrium with depletion by farming, will help to prevent deforestation.”
The President and CEO of Rosier, Willy Raymaekers, said: “We are very satisfied with the initial results of our co-operation with Applied DNA and are currently defining the next steps for further broadening the implementation of this innovative concept.”