Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study


Nutrient deficiencies and compositional variability in fertilizers: The case of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam


Quality control in fertilizer markets is critical to food security by facilitating fertilizer application and increasing agricultural productivity. With the active proliferation of new fertilizer producers, Vietnam has also faced this problem, but public and market initiatives have recently been taken to address the issue This paper evaluates the quality of 141 randomly sampled fertilizers in the Mekong Delta, the country’s central rice producing area. We intentionally sampled unbranded products to focus on the most vulnerable market segment. On average, our sample contains the labeled nutrient content. However, the quality variability is high, and half of the sample has at least one nutrient content below the legal requirement. We also find that nitrogen is over-concentrated and phosphate is diluted. These findings suggest that the quality of fertilizers in Vietnam, even unbranded ones, is reliable on average, but efforts are needed to stabilize quality variability. In addition, over-concentration of nitrogen may warrant policy attention as farmers may inadvertently over-apply nitrogen and harm the environment.



Report No.: HIAS-E-129
Author(s): Yukichi Mano(a), Yutaka Arimoto(a), Nguyen Duy Can(b), Do Van Hoang(b), Emi Kojin(c), Nguyen Thiet(b), Kazunari Tsukada(c), Vo Hong Tu(b)
Affiliation: (a) Hitotsubashi University
(b) Can Tho University
(c) Institute of Developing Economies, JETRO
Issued Date: April 2023
Keywords: low-quality fertilizer, experience goods, Vietnam
JEL: L15, L51, Q16, Q18