Catalysing Fertilizer users and usage to boost agricultural Productivity

01 Sep 2014
As Africa fast approaches 2015—the deadline for increased fertilizer usage in the continent as per the Abuja fertilizer summit recommendations signed in 2006 by African heads of States—the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) hosted a panel discussion during the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) to highlight some of the challenges and constraints the continent has faced in trying to reach the deadline.

The Abuja Declaration called for fertilizer use in Sub-Saharan Africa to increase from an average of 8 kg/ha — the world’s lowest — to at least 50 kg/ha by 2015.

Opening the panel session, Professor Richard Mkandawire said, “Since the signing of the Abuja Declaration, Africa has not made much progress in increasing fertilizer users and usage.” Adding that there remained much room for progress, “through discussions and implementable interventions by the public and private sectors, and more importantly farmers,” Mkandawire said.

During the panel discussion held at the Sheraton Hotel, speakers, which included three recipients of AFAP’s Agribusiness Partnership Contract (APC) noted that many constraints to fertilizer usage in their countries was mainly due to limited access to knowledge on fertilizer, and available credit for smallholder farmers.

“We commend AFAP for providing us with the means to extend our fertilizer warehouse to boost fertilizer use and agricultural productivity in my region,” said Elizabeth Dwamena, Managing Director of North Gate Agro Limited in Ghana. Through the help from AFAP, Dwamena said North Gate had become a hub of fertilizer distribution, attracting farmers not only from Ghana but also in neighboring countries such as Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

Dwamena is currently providing extension services to smallholder farmers in her region on the correct use of fertilizer.

Head of the Soil Health Program at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr Bashir Jama noted that an African Green Revolution would be truly recognized when smallholder farmers have access to the inputs they require, timeously, to substantially increase their yields.

Panelists were in agreement that there are many challenges found along the fertilizer value chain that cripple access to fertilizer, however, continued dialogue between the private and public sectors, donor agencies and smallholder farmers themselves, would work to oil these issues in benefit of the farmers.

Adam Mosert, CEO of the Fertilizer Association of Southern African (FertASA) said it was worrying that unnourished people in Africa where increasing instead of decreasing. “Africa’s main myth continues to be that African soils are rich and therefore don’t need to be fertilized.”

Reminding the audience that fertilizer use has the ability to triple yield outputs and boost agricultural productivity, Mkandawire said, “The hour has come for stakeholders in the fertilizer space to take action- radical interventions are urgently required at policy level to spur increased users and usage of fertilizer by smallholder farmers.”