Check out all the video interviews and helpful links here: www.growingsmarttogether.org
IFA is delighted that 2015 has been chosen as the International Year of Soil, as it is hugely important that the threat of degraded soils to global agriculture is communicated. IFA will continue to represent the global fertilizer industry at key events throughout 2015 – for live updates and information follow us on Twitter.
We’re delighted that the voice of the fertilizer industry was present at multiple high-profile events this month, such as the World Food Prize, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 41) and One Young World.
In such a busy and exciting time for IFA we wanted to look at five key highlights from October:
1. IFA and One Acre Fund’s Side Event on Smallholders’ Access to inputs in Africa
We hosted a side event at the 41st Committee on World Food Security with One Acre Fund to promote the need to improve access to inputs for smallholder farmers in Africa.
The panel included:
• Charles Ogang from the Ugandan Farmers’ Federation and World Farmers’ Organization
• Wafaa El Khoury from IFAD
• Stephanie Hanson from One Acre Fund
• Nega Wubeneh from the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency
• Michael Michener from CropLife International
The chair of the event was H.E. Mohammed Sheriff, the Ambassador of Liberia and chair of The Africa Group.
You can see all the highlights from our side event here, you can also follow #CFS41 and @CFSupdates for more highlights from CFS.
2. IFA’s President Esin Mete’s panel discussion on ‘Soil Health and the Fertilizer Gap’ at the World Food Prize
The World Food Prize is always a key date for the fertilizer and agriculture industry, so it was great that IFA President Esin Mete was part of this year’s Borlaug Dialogue event.
Esin Mete was joined by Amit Roy, from IFDC, Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas, Executive Director of The Mosaic Company Foundation and other leading experts to discuss the role fertilizer is playing in achieving food and nutritional security.
You can read more about Esin Mete’s participation in the World Food Prize in the following articles:
• World Food Prize - If Norman Borlaug posed the following questions to you... what would you tell him?
• Reuters AlertNet - Is fertiliser the key to more food and better health?
• MU Earth - Call for fertilizers
• Agriculture.com - 7 Numbers You Should Know About Global Fertility
3. The launch of Farming First and IFAD’s new infographic ‘Africa’s Agricultural Potential’
To highlight the need for Africa to unlock its agricultural potential Farming First and IFAD have launched an interactive infographic this month.
The infographic includes resources on the role fertilizer can play in boosting food production in Africa.
4. Kofi Annan’s address to One Young World
From 15-18 October young people with an interest in politics and current affairs traveled to Dublin to take part in One Young World, an event that unites potential future leaders with prominent politicians, celebrities and activists.
The 4-day event included sessions on Sustainable Development and Global Business, bringing aspiring leaders together with renowned figures such as Unilever’s Paul Polman and former Irish President, Mary Robinson. The consensus overarching conclusion of the Summit was the both experienced leaders and aspiring can have a better chance of addressing development challenges if they work together.
5. World Food Day
Every year the number of people discussing World Food Day on social media increases, and this year was no different.
The theme of this year’s World Food Day was on family farming, so the event presented another opportunity to highlight the important role family farmers play around the world, particularly in developing countries.
In particular it was great to see Queen Maxima of the Netherlands at the World Food Day conference, Queen Maxima raised an important point in her speech that “we must not forget that most agricultural labour is done by women, but most of these women do not have access to the tools they need to be productive.”
It was also encouraging to see Argentine farmer and World Farmers Organisation representative Santiago Del Solar on the World Food Day conference panel. Before the event Del Solar spoke to Reuters about the increasingly erratic rainfall patterns and the benefits of GM seeds.
It is important that the fertilizer industry continues to contribute to high-profile global discussion on agriculture and development, to better inform our partners and the public of the role of the industry and what fertilizers contribute to farming and food security.
A huge thank you to everyone who continues to support IFA on Twitter, it is thanks to you that we have reached the landmark 5,000 followers this month.
Social media now plays a key role in connecting the global fertilizer industry together, ensuring that we can share significant moments from events, disseminate videos, reports and messaging and that we are keeping the food and nutritional security debate at the top of the Sustainable Development agenda.
To celebrate reaching 5,000 followers we’ve looked back at our top five Twitter moments from the past year:
To get the latest IFA news and updates you can follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn here – here’s to the next 5,000 followers!
For the next month all eyes are on Brazil as hosts of the World Cup, this focus presents an ideal opportunity to highlight the significant role agriculture plays in Brazil. So before you switch on the football today here’s five things you need to know about Brazilian agriculture…
Concentrated efforts are being undertaken in Sub-Saharan Africa but progress can only be achieved through effective strategic cooperation between governments, private sector, researchers, rural advisory services and farmers. Soil quality is linked to human well-being. According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) scientist Birte Junge, solutions to combat desertification and erosion exist and they include fertilizers. In order to advance sustainable livelihoods we must address the challenge from the ground up and tackle desertification as well as other soil and environmental and climate threats.
The soil on which we grow the crops to feed an increasing population is at the heart of many of the sustainability issues facing policymakers today. There are numerous linkages between soils and food production, climate change , biodiversity, markets, innovation, infrastructure. Therefore, on the World Day to Combat Desertification, let us reflect on the synergies between different agri-food and industrial sectors, governments, researchers and smallholder farmers so as to best address the threat to the foundation of our livelihoods that is land degradation in general and desertification in particular.
For more information about desertification, soil fertility and land degradation, the organizations below provide a breadth of resources:
• United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
• International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
• Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
Alassane Dialo, IFA Vice President Africa
Fertilizer storage in Africa. But use is relatively low on the continent.
Image: IFDC/Danielle Mbesherubusa on Flickr
Sub-Saharan Africa represents 10% of the total global population yet only 0.8% of total fertilizer use. Considering 75% of sub-Saharan Africa’s soils are degraded, this makes little sense. It is estimated that nutrient losses from agricultural soils in sub-Saharan Africa are worth the equivalent of $4 billion annually. The African Union has called for an increase in the level of use of fertilizer from the average of 8 kilograms per hectare in 2006 to at least 50 kilograms per hectare by 2015.
But what will it take to make this happen?
The first way to improve access to fertilizer is through investment in infrastructure. Without adequate road and port facilities, costs of transporting fertilizer remain high, and well out of reach for many smallholders. Currently, only 16% of Africa’s 1.8 million kilometres of roads are paved – an obvious area for improvement.
Improving port facilities to receive greater volumes of fertilizer as Yara is doing in Tanzania, will also temper prices. Rwanda has subsidized transport costs since 2008 and as a result has seen its maize yield increase by 73%.
There are barriers to fertilizer accessibility and affordability.
Another route to improved fertilizer use is through proper training programs for farmers and agricultural input retailers. Fertilizer will have the most impact if farmers use the right nutrient source, at the right rate, at the right time, in the right place.
The fertilizer industry, in partnership with international and national research and extension organizations, is addressing this education challenge. The Africa Fertilizer Volunteer Program, which we at IFA recently launched, supports global fertilizer experts in volunteering their time and knowledge to help build a vibrant African fertilizer value chain, and thus improve smallholder access to fertilizer.
Of course, access to fertilizer is only one of the many interventions that African farmers need to boost their productivity in the future. The work carried out by One Acre Fund, for example, bundles the timely, local distribution of inputs like fertilizers and improved seeds with three other interventions a farmer requires – namely, credit, training to improve farmers’ profits and links to a market to sell their produce. This model has been shown to double beneficiaries’ yields, giving those farmers not only the food and nutrition security they need, but also a resilient livelihood.
Fertilizer also has an important role to play in terms of levelling the field for female farmers. FAO has recorded women’s use of fertilizer as being significantly lower than men’s, mainly due to lack of access to this vital input. This is a major factor that contributes to their yields being around 20-30% lower than men’s. It has been cited that this gap could be bridged sizably by improving women’s access to fertilizer and such an intervention could feed a further 150 million people.
Women applying fertilizer to Cassava plants in Nigeria.
Image: IITA on Flickr
When equipped with the means to use fertilizer effectively, Africa could see its food production soar. When this effective use of fertilizer is coupled with improved seeds and the application of up-to-date engineering and agronomic knowledge, studies have shown cereal grain yields can triple, from one tonne per hectare to three tonnes per hectare.
We already have 60% of the world’s potential additional farmland, and by giving its soil the nutrients it needs could have a dramatic impact on crop yields, the livelihood of African smallholders, and consequently food and nutrition security levels on the continent and around the world
If 2014 is truly to be Africa’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security, then the Africa fertilizer gap has to be addressed; we must find ways to get this vital input into farmers’ hands. Only then can a Green Revolution in Africa truly flourish.