COMESA and AFAP discuss modalities on a Joint Fertiliser Policy and Regulatory Harmonisation in the Region
Lusaka, Zambia, 24th November 2014
A high level regional validation workshop to discuss and validate a report on the review of national fertilizer policies and regulations and the roadmap towards the establishment of a fertilizer policy and regulatory framework for COMESA is underway in Lusaka, Zambia.
This initiative is being implemented by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in partnership with the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP).
The workshop, whose primary aim is to discuss the national policies and regulations that inhibit countries in the COMESA region from trading freely in fertilizers, is also aimed at facilitating free trade of this commodity across borders in the region.
This is in line with the Abuja Declaration on Fertilizers for an African Green Revolution, the key outcome of the Africa Fertilizer Summit which was convened in Abuja, Nigeria in 2006 by the African Union and New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD).
The Fertilizer Summit was convened in response to the recognition by African Union Heads of States that the target of 6 percent annual growth in agricultural productivity that has been set by the Comprehensive African Agricultural Framework (CAADP) will require substantive increases in fertilizer use on the continent.
However, Africa is facing a fertilizer crisis: it estimated that the continent loses the equivalent of over $4 billion worth of soil nutrients per year, severely eroding its ability to feed itself. Yet farmers have neither access to nor can they afford the fertilizers needed to add life to their soils.
According to the African Union (AU), no region of the world has been able to expand agricultural growth rates, and thus tackle hunger, without increasing fertilizer use. Accordingly, the AU Heads of State convened the Africa Fertilizer Summit to identify the key constraints to increased fertilizer use and development, an action plan to rapidly accelerate the accessibility, availability and incentives to use fertilizers by smallholder farmers in Africa.
COMESA responded to this call through its specialized agency, the Alliance for Commodity Trade in East and Southern Africa (ACTESA) by partnering with the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) to undertake a review of national policies and regulations on fertilizer importation, manufacturing, distribution and use, with the aim of developing recommendations for the establishment of a harmonized regulatory framework for the region.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Assistant Secretary General- Programmes, Ambassador KIPYEGO CHELUGET welcomes this initiative. He said the low agricultural productivity in the COMESA region can be traced to weak or non-existent fertilizer regulations and legislation, and lack of coherence in fertilizer policies and regulations administered by countries in the region resulting to low production in the region.
Ambassador CHELUGET said: “Wide variations in fertilizer recommendations under similar soil and ecological conditions, inter-country variations in fertilizer standards, deficiencies in existing fertilizer laws and regulations, and inadequate capacity to enforce existing laws and regulations have made it difficult for countries to trade freely.”
“So far a lot of progress has been made in terms of exempting fertilizers from value added tax (VAT) and import duties. However, non-tariff barriers remain a major stumbling block to farmers’ access to the commodity,” Ambassador CHELUGET added.
Meanwhile, AFAP Vice President RICHARD MKANDAWIRE said smallholder farmers in Africa are not likely to rise unless the continent begins to define radical and innovative interventions that will enhance their productivity.
Prof. MKANDAWIRE said: “One area where radical interventions are called for is around increased use and usage of fertilizer among smallholder farmers.”
Meanwhile, the Zambian government says it is delighted to learn that AFAP is supporting the NEPAD preparations of a fertilizer into their Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Plans (CAAD) to national agriculture investment plans.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock JULIUS SHAWA said it was important to be practical in approaching joint ventures so that the result can lead to improved fertilizer trade, higher fertilizer adoption, increased productivity and production, enhanced regional trade in staples and increased food security and incomes.
The objective of the validation workshop is to validate the draft synthesis report on the national and regional reviews and its recommendations and agree on a roadmap for implementation.
The goal of the AFAP-COMESA Joint Program on Fertilizer Policy and Regulatory Harmonization is to enhance regional trade in fertilizer and food staples in order to increase food security and rural incomes. The objective is to harmonize policies and regulations at the regional level so as to facilitate fertilizer trade between countries in East and Southern Africa.
The program has been broken down into six phases will culminate in the establishment of a Regional Fertilizer Policy and Regulatory Framework for COMESA which will be endorsed by the COMESA Heads of State.
The first phase involves stocktaking of national and regional fertilizer policies, laws and regulations affecting fertilizer markets in the COMESA member states and identifying gaps and opportunities for harmonization. The major output is a synthesis report which will be presented for validation during a high-level workshop in early 2015.
According to the programme of events, this roadmap will also include the identification of the key topical areas that will need to be addressed for harmonization of fertilizer policies and regulations.
The third phase will entail the establishment of technical committees for each of these topical areas, comprising of legal and subject matter specialists and stakeholders from the COMESA region. This output of this phase will be a legal draft. This will be followed by a meeting to validate the legal draft. The draft regulations will then be presented to the Ministers of Agriculture, the Committee on Legal Affairs, Council of Ministers and then the African Union’s Heads of State Summit for consideration.
After the COMESA Authority, which is also the Heads of State and Government summit have endorsed these proposals; the legal document will be domesticated and implemented by both COMESA and its member states.
It is envisaged that this will lead to improved fertilizer trade, higher fertilizer adoption rates and improvements in productivity and production, which will also lead to enhanced regional trade in staple foods and increased food security and incomes.
Notes to Editors
AFAP is supporting the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) for the preparation of a Fertilizer Framework and Toolkit which will be used by countries to mainstream fertilizer into their Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) and National Agriculture Investment Plans.
The African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) is an independent non-profit organisation founded by Partnership of African development organizations. 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 a home grown innovative partnership contract (APC) model, AFAP joins industry and development interests to inspire productivity, food security and prosperity in Africa
The Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) is a specialized agency of COMESA whose mandate is to integrate smallholder farmers into national, regional and international markets.
For more details contact:
Professor Richard Mkandawire,
Vice President for Partnerships and Communication,
Africa Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP)
Mr. Argent Chuula
Chief Executive Officer,
Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA),
Direct : +260 211 725 229-32
Cell. +260 9777 88853
E-mail : email@example.com