Hundreds of fertilizer stakeholders including suppliers, farmers’ organisations and government officials from 55 countries in Africa are calling for increased use of fertilizer by farmers to improve crop yield.
The stakeholders who attended the 8th Annual Argus Africa Fertiliser Conference, in Cape Town, South Africa,discussed ways of boosting Africa’s agricultural productivity through increased use of fertilizers.
ECA’s Nassirou Ba, an agricultural economist, who spoke during the event said a combination of rising population and degrading soils make it necessary to increase use of fertilizers in Africa.
“Africa’s population is growing fast and is expected to reach 2 billion by 2050. However, soils in the continent are among the most degraded in the world. The challenge therefore is to produce enough food to feed this growing population. For this to happen, agricultural productivity has to increase through use of fertilizers as well as improved seeds and other technologies.”
Mr. Ba added that although low use of fertilizers is not the only impediment to increased productivity in Africa, “no country in the world has been able to grow its agriculture without use of fertilizers.”
It was also argued during the conference that Africa’s low agricultural productivity, in relation to its fast growing population, could partly be blamed on limited or no access – in some cases – to adequate and sufficient fertilizers by smallholder farmers. The continent reportedly loses on average over $4 billion worth of soil nutrients per year, meanwhile it accounts for only about 10% of the world average in fertilizer use.
The forum, which brought together, international fertilizer companies, development agencies government officials and farmers’ organizations from across sub-Sahara Africa, provided a great opportunity for ECA’s Ba to present a study by the Commission titled, ” Promotion of Fertilizer Production, Cross-border Trade and Consumption in Africa.”
The ECA study calls for the harmonization of fertilizer regulations and policies, improvement of transport infrastructure and improved public-private partnerships in line with the fertilizer sector in Africa, among other things.
During the three-day event, over 500 participants from 55 countries discussed current challenges in the agricultural sector and practical solutions that can create enabling environments for fertilizer supply and distribution, improve access to finance and develop infrastructure, which in turn will broaden intra-Africa trade, increase fertilizer consumption in Africa, and ultimately increase agricultural productivity.