“Global Fertilizer Day” Celebrates Fertilizers’ Contribution to Global Food Security and Nutrition

Ahead of World Food Day, Here are 7 Ways the Fertilizer Sector is Making a Positive Impact Around the World

Paris, France, 13 October 2016 – 
Our planet is working harder than ever to grow the crops that will nourish a projected nine billion people by 2050. Continuous innovation to sustainably boost productivity in the face of a changing climate and scarce natural resources is bringing us ever closer to our goal to end hunger by 2030.

“Fertilizers play a key role in this process, ensuring our soils have the vital nutrients they need to grow healthy crops,” says Charlotte Hebebrand, Director-General of the International Fertilizer Association (IFA). “In recognition of this responsibility, the fertilizer industry supports a range of initiatives which aim to make fertilizer use as efficient, productive and sustainable as possible.”

Ahead of World Food Day on 16th October, IFA is proud to announce the newly created Global Fertilizer Day on 13th October. This day celebrates fertilizers as one of the most important inventions of our time, contributing to an estimated 50 per cent of today’s food production. Visit the website at: fertilizerday.com.

As part of this celebration, here are seven ways the fertilizer industry is contributing to global food security and promoting sustainable fertilizer use:
  1. Connecting African Smallholders to Input Markets
  2. The African continent suffers the most from a wide agricultural yield gap with cereal crop yields only one-tenth as high as those in the United States. Sub-Saharan Africa fertilizer use is still far below 20kg per hectare. It is no coincidence that 65 per cent of African soils are depleted of nutrients. African leaders issued a call in 2006 to increase fertilizer use by a factor of five in their "Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for the African Green Revolution" – but this target has unfortunately not yet even come close to being achieved.

    IFA supports the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), which is working to connect smallholder farmers to fertilizer value chains. Their work is supporting farmers to test their soils, access the right fertilizers and set up effective fertilizer distribution networks, through warehousing and trained agro-dealers.

  3. Helping Expert Volunteers to Build Fertilizer Value Chains in Africa
  4. IFA and AFAP have also combined efforts to increase knowledge of soil and fertilizer management through the African Fertilizer Volunteers Program (AFVP). AFVP is a call to global fertilizer industry experts willing to volunteer their time and knowledge towards building the African fertilizer value chain. The program works to mobilize global expertise and provide targeted support across the fertilizer development value chain in Africa.

    Volunteers come from around the world and have a broad range of expertise, from project development and financing to manufacturing, distribution and quality assurance. Volunteers are either sponsored by their own organization or they apply to the program as individuals. Volunteers are already making a significant contribution to developing Africa’s agriculture potential and improving the livelihoods of African smallholder farmers.

  5. 4R Nutrient Stewardship
  6. Fertilizers play a crucial role in food security, but must be applied in a balanced and efficient way. To help farmers towards this goal, the global fertilizer industry has developed the “4R Nutrient Stewardship” principles based on four simple concepts: using the right source (or product), at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place. The 4Rs principles are the same globally, but their local application varies depending on local soil, climate and crop conditions. They help farmers to increase their economic outcomes, as they contribute to maximize nutrient uptake, while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. Watch a video on 4R Nutrient Stewardship here.

  7. Turning a smartphone into a crop nutrient tester
  8. New technologies are now making it easier for farmers to apply fertilizers more effectively. These include tools such as GPS systems, yield monitoring, variable rate fertilizer application, remote sensing and crop sensors for increasing nutrient use efficiency, soil health, crop productivity and quality.

    Smartphone apps and web-based tools can help farmers with nutrient management advice tailored to their farming conditions and needs. For instance, one smartphone app can measure the nitrogen levels and uptake of their crops, as well as making recommendations for nitrogen fertilizer application, based on photographs. It calculates the nitrogen uptake based on leaf cover, leaf green colour and estimated fraction of brown leaves.

    Despite being an advanced agricultural tool, these apps are user-friendly and can be adapted for most farmers. By calculating more precise nutrient needs, they help farmers to reduce fertilizer waste, and thus safeguard the environment and save unnecessary input costs.

  9. Training Agro-Input Dealers in East Africa
  10. Smallholder farmers, many of whom are struggling to produce enough food for themselves and their families, require tools and information to improve their yields. These can come in the form of local agro-dealers, who sell the necessary products, including fertilizers, and can advise on their proper use.

    In East Africa, the International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) has partnered with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), to provide training to 1,400 agro-dealers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The participants received advice not only on the products they sell, but on how to run a business. Equipped with good information, they are able not only to grow their own businesses, but the yields of their customers too. Watch the video here.

  11. Strengthening science and technology transfer in China
  12. In China, there still tremendous scope for more efficient and effective fertilization to ensure maximum crop yields and minimum losses to the environment. To adapt and optimize use, the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) have conducted extensive research, pioneered a soil testing procedure and developed a computerized soil testing and fertilizer recommendation system known as the Systematic Approach for Soil Testing and Fertilizer Recommendation Program.

    The team has conducted over 4,000 trials for all major soil types with more than 100 crops, discovering the optimal fertilizer to be used in each case. Over the years, more than 360,000 people have benefited from this new knowledge, which has been disseminated via field demonstrations and local television.

  13. “Protect & Sustain” Product Stewardship
  14. As part of its major responsibility to ensure fertilizers are produced, transported and used as safely and sustainably as possible, IFA has devised the “Protect & Sustain” initiative for its members worldwide. The initiative helps fertilizer companies to implement effective product stewardship programs. An award – known as the IFA Green Leaf Award – is given every two years to a member that has shown excellence in implementing the Protect & Sustain initiative.

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Notes to editors

About the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) - The International Fertilizer Association (IFA) is a trade association representing the global fertilizer industry, which provides the crop nutrients that allow farmers everywhere to meet the world's growing food, feed, fiber and bioenergy needs in a sustainable manner. IFA member companies represent all activities related to the production and distribution of every type of fertilizer, their raw materials and intermediates. IFA’s membership also includes organizations involved in agronomic research and training. IFA has some 550 members in about 86 countries.

Media Contacts

Ms. Margot Clifford
International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA)
Switchboard: +33 1 53 93 05 35