Addis Ababa, 3 September 2014 –A new campaign by the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) and six other agricultural development partner organizations aims to promote the importance of fertilizer access for African farmers as a means of bridging the current agricultural productivity gap on the continent.
The campaign is being launched at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), a three-day event bringing together the global agricultural community to discuss and coordinate strategies for achieving the green revolution in Africa. (View the campaign website).
“Fertilizer use in Africa remains startlingly low compared to other regions, with average use at around 10 kg per hectare, a tenth of the global average,” said Charlotte Hebebrand, Director General of IFA. “As the voice of the global fertilizer industry, IFA will continue to dedicate time and resources to raising awareness on fertilizer’s role in reducing the yield gap and driving African agricultural development.”
Yet African leaders have pledged in the 2006 Abuja Declaration to bridge this gap and increase fertilizer use to 50 kg/ha by 2015, a goal which has only been met in very few countries.
The campaign calls for six key actions to help the African continent to address this challenge, namely:
- Facilitate local production and imports of fertilizers
- Provide better access to credit, finance and insurance
- Invest in infrastructure which connects farmers to input and output markets
- Develop mobile technologies
- Train more extension workers to work with farmers
- Disseminate best practices based on the integration of both organic and mineral nutrients and balanced fertilization, such as the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Framework and Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM)
An expert session at the AGRF to launch the campaign demonstrated the broad consensus from all actors on the importance of efficient crop nutrition for agricultural development but also for poverty eradication and broad-based economic development.
Chaired by Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, the distinguished panel of experts included:
- Professor Richard Mkandawire, African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP)
- Dr. Jeroen Huising, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
- Stephanie Hanson, One Acre Fund
- Rutger Bonsel, IFA member Stamicarbon
- Vanessa Adams, USAID Ethiopia
“Developing agri-inputs supply chains in Africa,” said Commissioner Tumusiime, “is key to increasing the productivity and competitiveness of agrifood systems. Realizing the potential for agricultural transformation to yield broad-based prosperity and help extricate a majority of African people, especially youth and women, from poverty will require access to such inputs but also many other investments”.
During the session, Professor Mkandawire said, “Radical interventions in support of smallholder farmers in African are well overdue, more particularly in catalyzing wealth creation among millions of smallholder farmers that are seemingly forgotten. “ He added that increased fertilizer use, in this regard, is key.
In addition, IFA’s presence in Ethiopia also celebrated the launch, in partnership with the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), of a four-year research project to scale up 4R Nutrient Stewardship and Integrated Soil Fertility Management knowledge to support crop production intensification in Ethiopia. The project aims to support government-led initiatives to increase sustainably fertilizer use and develop crop- and site-specific fertilizer blends. “We welcome IFA as a partner on this important project,” said Dr. Terry Roberts, President of IPNI. “Successful implementation of nutrient stewardship programs with smallholders in Eithiopa will help them reduce their yield gaps and also nutrient management knowledge in support of IFA’s efforts in promoting access to fertilizers in Africa.” This project will be implemented in collaboration with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), the Ministry of Agriculture, CIMMYT and IFDC to demonstrate the impact of various 4R techniques on crop productivity and profits.
The African Green Revolution Forum is an important platform for public-private dialogue, and IFA commends its members Yara and OCP for co-sponsoring this important event that lays the groundwork for the Green Revolution to reach the African continent.
The campaign also coincides with the 2014 International Year of Family Farming and the African Union Year for Agriculture and Food Security.