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May 21, 2015

Port of Paranagua Strives to Improve its Handling of Fertilizers

When the Port of Paranagua is mentioned to most people they think of exports of soybeans and corn and the port is the second leading export facility in Brazil after the Port of Santos, but it is also the leading point of entry for fertilizers imported into Brazil. Brazil imports approximately 70% of its fertilizer needs and the Port of Paranagua handles more fertilizers than any other facility in Brazil.

In an effort to improve their efficiency in handling the imported fertilizers, port officials recently held a meeting with fertilizer companies and transportation companies operating at the port to solicit their ideas on how to streamline the entire process of importing fertilizers in order to make it more efficient.

The main suggestion coming out of the meeting was to increase the number of berths dedicated solely to unloading imported fertilizers. Currently there are two berths dedicated just to fertilizers and the proposal is to convert berth number 208 from a dual use berth to one dedicated to just fertilizer imports. Currently the berth is used for both general cargo and fertilizer imports depending on demand.

Port officials were also looking for ways to more efficiently utilize their existing infrastructure especially in moving the fertilizers from the docks to the warehouses. One thing the transportation companies really liked was the recent establishment of a staging area where drivers could clean their trucks while they wait for new loads. An estimated 20,000 tons of grain residues are now being collected per month at this staging area which helps keep the port and the surrounding areas cleaner.

During 2014 approximately 9.2 million tons of fertilizers were imported through the port which was an increase of 5% compared to 2013. During the first four months of 2015, there have been 2.7 million tons of fertilizers imported and the pace of imports is expected to ramp up over the next few months.

Back hauling the fertilizers from the Port of Paranagua to the interior of Brazil helps to hold down the already high cost of transporting grain by truck from states like Mato Grosso. As more grain moves north from Mato Grosso to ports on the Amazon River, the Port of Paranagua is aggressively improving its facilities in order to continue competing with the cheaper northern ports. The biggest improvement involves the installation of four new ship loaders, each of which can move 30% more grain than the loaders they are replacing. The port has also improved its receiving facilities and it has increased its storage capacity.