Smallholder farmers in Limpopo Province – South Africa’s bread basket –  are failing to raise their productivity to boost food security owing to limited access and low use of fertilizers, a neglected but critical input which can double yields within a single cropping season.

Fertilizers, in addition inputs such as better seed and farming practices, can be a game changer in food security among South Africa’s smallholder farmers who are battling falling harvests and unproductive soils. Research has established that for every kilogram of nutrients smallholder farmers apply to their soils, they can realize up to 30kg in additional products.

“There is a big push at the continental level to enhance agriculture productivity in Africa in line with the Maputo Declaration to increase agricultural productivity and food security and South Africa is part of that movement,” African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) Vice-President, Prof. Richard Mkandawire, told participants at an entrepreneurship development support training program held for small holder farmers and agro dealers in Limpopo Province and facilitated by Kynoch, a leading fertilizer manufacturer.

“To grow and support SMEs in Africa is the pathway if we are to reduce hunger and poverty. The future of South Africa is about growing those rural enterprises that will support smallholder farmers and employment creation.”

The training program is part of the African Fertilizer Volunteers Program (AFVP) run jointly by the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) and AFAP to build the capacity of smallholder farmers on production inputs and their use. In addition, the training program which is an Africa-wide initiative, seeks to strengthen emerging agro dealers in the Limpopo Province and develop strong private sector networks along the fertilizer value chain. To date more than 100 agro dealers have been trained in Limpopo Province under the AFVP.

Kynoch Managing Director, Eugene Muller, Regional Head – Fertilizers and Agri Inputs, “Kynoch, part of the ETG Fertilizer would like to contribute and play its part in assisting the African continent feed itself by ensuring that smallholder farmers are able to use fertilizer optimally in boosting their yields.”

Prof. Mkandawire said by using more fertilisers correctly, South Africa’s smallholder farmers can grow more and nutritious food, achieve household food security, create jobs, increase incomes and boost rural development.

Smallholder farmers and agro dealers were trained on basic knowledge about fertilisers, soils, plant nutrients, safe storage of fertilizers, environmental safety and business management skills.

Agriculturalist and trainer at Kynoch, Schalk Grobbelaar said smallholder farmers in Limpopo are applying fertilizers randomly because they lack knowledge on correct usage.

“Fertilizer increase yields. We fertilize what crops will take away and we put back into the soil but farmers lack knowledge on the balancing fertilizers according to what crops need,” said Grobbelaar.

High transaction costs throughout Africa are one of several barriers to smallholder farmers accessing and using fertilizers, a situation AFAP is working to change through facilitating Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) models which including developing effective fertiliser markets and providing credit guarantee facilities for agro dealers.

Editor’s Notes:

The International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) is a trade association representing the global fertilizer industry, which provides the crop nutrients that allow farmers everywhere to meet the world’s growing food, feed, fiber and bioenergy needs in a sustainable manner. IFA member companies represent all activities related to the production and distribution of every type of fertilizer, their raw materials and intermediates. IFA’s membership also includes organizations involved in agronomic research and training. IFA has some 550 members in about 86 countries.

The African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) is an independent non-profit organization founded by a Partnership of African development organization. It works to establish more competitive and sustainable fertilizer markets in Africa and to contribute to an African Green Revolution. AFAP unites the expertise and dedication of the public and private sectors to increase fertilizer affordability and accessibility for African smallholder farmers. Using an innovative partnership contract, AFAP joins industry and development interests to inspire productivity, food security and prosperity in Africa. It builds on the work of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), a framework for achieving ambitious agricultural development goals set in place by African nations and leaders.

Kynoch Fertilizer is a leading importer, blender and retailer of a complete range of granular, liquid and speciality fertilizers (Optimizers™) in Southern Africa (including South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and the DRC), whilst our farmers are serviced by a large sales and agronomic technical support team.

For further information and interviews, please contact:

Sandra Pires

Regional Business Development Manager – East and Southern Africa & Project Manager for the African Fertilizer Volunteers Program (AFVP)

Edenburg Terraces, Block D, Third Floor

348 Rivonia Boulevard,

P.O. Box 53 Rivonia,

Johannesburg, 2128

Tel: + 27 (0)11 844 7332