AFRICA Fertilizer Map 2019 

by Antonella Harrison – antonella.l.harrison@gmail.com

Africa’s population is set to rise 20% by 2030 from the current 1.2bn and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the region with the greatest food security risk as it has the highest projected increase in population. To match demand, food production will need to almost triple and this will require substantial increases in nutrient inputs on cropland along with good agronomic management. Closing the gap between the current farm yield and the yield potential on existing cropland will not be sufficient; increasing cropping intensity and sustainable expansion of irrigated production areas will also be necessary.

Most soils in Africa are highly weathered and nutrient-poor. Soil fertility across much of Africa is low. Over 40% of African soils face nutrient depletion, partly because of a failure to apply sufficient levels of fertilizers. While N is the most limiting nutrient for crop production, many agricultural soils in SSA are deficient in P, K, sulphur (S) and micronutrients as well which are critical for a balanced nutrient application. Therefore, Africa will be a key driver of future fertilizer growth, with SSA consumption expected to increase 5% annually to reach 5.9m. tonnes nutrients in 2022, boosted by Nigeria and Ethiopia, and rising to represent 3% of the world global consumption. Current growth is mainly driven by higher application rates rather than increased cropland. The average fertilizer application rate in SSA is expected to increase to 22kg per hectare from the current low level of around 16kg/ha by 2022, still far below the continent-wide recommendation of about 100kg per hectare.

Fertilizer production is expanding in SSA, with Nigeria set to more than triple urea capacity to 5.7m. tonnes by 2022. NPK blending capacity is also rising exponentially, with another 31 plants expected on stream in 2019 in 11 countries in west, eastern and southern Africa, taking total capacity to over 27m. tonnes in 2019. Supportive government policies, agricultural and economic contexts are needed to ensure food security and fight malnutrition. Access to finance, digital farming and further services to smallholder farmers are also crucial.

Much more needs to be done, though. Africa is a key focus of commitment for the fertilizer industry. Thanks to the renewed support of the International Fertilizer Association (IFA), the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) and the African Fertilizer Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), I have produced the Africa Fertilizer Map 2019 to share available associations data but also to raise awareness of Africa’s major development issues. The map is sponsored by OCP Group of Morocco, a world leading phosphate producer which works towards sustainably unlocking the African continent’s agricultural potential by supplying agricultural needs, preserving the environment and supporting the communities in which it operates. OCP supplied 2.5m. tonnes of its fertilizer production to Africa in 2017 and is present in 20 countries of the Africa continent, either with an office, a foundation-led, agronomy or partnership project. Mostafa Terrab, ceo of OCP Group, has recently been elected as the new IFA chairman for the next two years, the first ever from an African country in the 90-year history of the industry association. “By scaling up improved soil analysis and nutrient best management practices, farmers in Africa can increase the efficiency and productivity of their farms and avoid the additional conversion of an estimated 80 million hectares of additional land to desert,” said Terrab.