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China moves to ensure fertilizer output for spring planting as supplies tighten

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BEIJING, Jan 15 (Reuters) - China's state planner asked local governments and companies to ensure fertilizer supplies and stable prices for upcoming spring planting, according to a statement on the website of the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC) on Monday.

A gas supply crunch this winter has tightened supplies of urea and other gas-based fertilizers and boosted prices. The crunch following a government campaign that asked millions of households to switch from coal to natural gas.

"Fertilizer supplies and prices during spring planting concern stable development of agriculture production and are of vital interest to farmers," said state planner NDRC.

"Fertilizer supplies in some regions are quite tight and prices have gone up quickly," said NDRC.

To address the issue, NDRC asked natural gas and coal producers, including China National Petroleum Corp, Sinopec and CNOOC, to fill contracted deliveries and step up efforts as the heating season draws to an end to ensure feedstock and fuel supplies to fertilizer producers, according to the statement.

The NDRC also asked railway bureaus to prioritize the transport of fertilizers and raw materials during preparations for spring planting, the statement showed.

China will add another 5.5 million tonnes of fertilizer into its reserves in two years' time to be used in case of a supply crunch during future spring plantings, the statement said.

NDRC also instructed local governments and companies to tell farmers to cut use of chemical fertilizers and turn to organic fertilizers, according to the statement.

Beijing is targeting zero growth of chemical fertilizers and pesticides by 2020. (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Tom Hogue)