Blog posts

  • IFA just wrapped up a very successful Strategic Forum held in Zürich from November 13 to 16. The fourth annual event attracted more than 200 industry CEOs and executives for three days of discussions on the future of fertilizers.

    This year’s Forum theme, “Enhancing Nutrient Use Efficiency – The Role of Specialty Fertilizers”, proved particularly popular with audiences and produced a wealth of fascinating and thought-provoking panels.

    Among many others, speakers included Heitor Cantarella, who received his 2017 IFA Norman Borlaug Award, former winners Achim Dobermann, Mike McLaughlin and Ismail Cakmak, external stakeholders including the WFO’s Theo de Jager, the OECD’s Simon Buckle and Peter Erik Yyema from the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, leading specialty manufacturers and various IFA Board members.


    The panels covered everything from enhancing nutrient use efficiency and external stakeholder perspectives on plant nutrition to enhanced efficiency fertilizer solutions, the size of the global specialty fertilizer market and the role and implications of specialties for the fertilizer industry from the boardroom perspective.

    Five new companies, Adventz Group, Ma’aden, Pupuk Kalimantan Timur, PhosAgro and UralChem, were inducted into IFA’s Protect & Sustain Hall of Fame. With Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Russia now represented, the industry’s culture of excellence in product stewardship is becoming truly global.

    IFA's Director General Charlotte Hebebrand also presented some of the fascinating results from the IFA2030 survey, including both IFA member and non-member perspectives. (Detailed results of the survey can be found here). Last but by no means least IFA was pleased to celebrate the association’s 90th anniversary with a look at some key moments in its history and a delicious birthday cake.

  • IFA and the World Farmers’ Organization (WFO) hosted a very successful side-event at the COP23 on 8 November in Bonn. The event officially kicked off the Conference’s Farmers day, and focused on ways to increase farmers’ effectiveness and resilience in a changing climate.

    The event was moderated by WFO’s Secretary-General Marco Marzano de Marinis, and brought together as speakers Dr. Hartelt Eberhard, Chairman Environmental Aspects, German Farmers’ Association, DBV; Mr Parbindra Singh, a farmer from Fiji ; Dr. Theo De Jager, President of the WFO; Dr. Scott Angle, President and CEO, International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) Dr. Meryl Richards, Science Officer for Low Emissions Development, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and Dr. Romano Marabelli, Adviser to the OIE Director General, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

    Presentations made by Dr. Eberhard, Mr. Singh and Dr. Theo de Jager provided very valuable insights of farmers’ perspectives on adapting to climate change, the vulnerability of the sector as a whole, and the need to increase their resilience through better access to inputs, resources and climate finance. Dr. Richards spoke about low emission development projects, demonstrating the value of engaging with farmers’ networks and cooperatives to scale up sustainable agricultural strategies and achieving NDCs. Dr. Angle of IFDC made a strong case for sustainable intensification of agriculture and explained each component of the “4Rs” which entail using the right fertilizer source, at the right rate; time and place.

    The event was very well attended, and a lively conversation was engaged between the panelists and participants following the presentations.

  • IFA recently organized a conference in Moscow with IPNI and RAPU during Russia’s Golden Autumn agricultural fair.

    The Research to Practice Conference was held on October 6 with the aim of promoting the increased use and better management of mineral fertilizers in Russia. The event was well attended with around 200 visitors, including government officials, scientists, the fertilizer industry and agricultural holdings.

    IFA’s Agricultural Service Senior Director, Patrick Heffer, gave a presentation showing that Russia was very much behind other developed countries with regards to mineral fertilizer use. Fertilizer industry members Eurochem, Uralchem, Uralkali, Phosagro and Acron then shared their plans and latest innovations to help improve the situation.

    Eugenia Serova from the FAO then offered their view on how agroecology can improve the situation. IPNI’s Terry Roberts and Svetlana Ivanova concluded by presenting 4R Nutrient Stewardship and the preliminary results of a field experiment conducted on pastures that showed that implementing the 4Rs doubled productivity without comprising on quality.

    “The Research to Practice Conference was a successful event that started a discussion and closer collaboration between the government, the fertilizer industry and agricultural holdings,” observed Patrick Heffer.

  • IFA’s first all-ladies running team took part in the “La Parisienne” race on Sunday, 10 September. La Parisienne takes place every year in September, it is Europe’s largest all-women race, with a 7-km circuit through the city of Paris.

    Florence Lambert (Director, Administrative Service); Armelle Gruère (Agriculture Service); Jessica de Lafargue (Conference Service); Claire Boutaric (Director-General’s Office); Sylvie Marcel (PIT Service); Sophie Palmié (SHE& Tech, Agriculture Services) and Margot Clifford (Communications and Public Affairs Service) represented IFA at this 21st edition of the “Parisienne”, under a Caribbean theme.


    Around 40,000 women took part in the run this year, which raises funds for medical research against breast cancer. In addition to its running team, IFA also contributed La Parisienne’s cause with a 500€ donation to the Foundation for Medical Research. IFA warmly congratulates its running team for its superb effort, and thanks Guillaume Peyroutou (Agriculture Service) and Valérie Corfmat (Conference Services) for their support!

  • From 10-19 July, IFA led a strong industry delegation to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2017 (HLPF 2017) in New York. Tip O’Neill (International Raw Materials), Andrea Ulrich (PhosAgro), Clyde Graham (Fertilizer Canada), Scott Angel (International Fertilizer Development Center) and Doug Beever (Agrium) attended the event, together with Yvonne Harz-Pitre (IFA) and the consultant Barrie Bain.

    In addition, IFA was also a co-sponsor of the first ever Agriculture and Food Day, as well as a member of the organizing committee of the SDG Business Forum and the High-Level Lunch, which was attended by UN Secretary General António Guterres.

    Agriculture and Food Day saw over 120 participants, including Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of the UN Economic and Social Council, António Guterres and John Danilovich, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce. From the Fertilizer Industry side, Scott Angel spoke at the break-out session on Goal 9 and Yvonne Harz-Pitre presented industry measures to reduce nutrient losses to the ocean as part of the break-out session on Goal 14.

    This year’s SDG Business Forum saw such a surge in popularity, from 200 participants in 2016 to 1500 in 2017, that the UN moved it to the General Assembly Hall, making it the biggest side event in their history. Doug Beever represented the fertilizer industry as the lead speaker in Session 2 on Reporting Business Progress.

    Leading business organizations, institutions and networks emphasized their firm commitment to the HLPF by releasing a joint business statement supporting the SDGs. Elsewhere, HLPF 2017 was marked by a number of strong interventions and calls to action, among them calls for increased inter-ministerial collaboration and inter-sectorial work. UN Environment spoke about its aim to integrate science, move towards a green economy and further increase resource efficiency, while countries were called on to “put the SDGs next to the Head of State” to accelerate decision making at a national level.

    Target 2.4 (sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices) was considered a key target as it interlinks with targets 1.5 (reduce exposure of the poor to climate change variability), 12.2 (achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources) and goal 15 (life on land). A Global Sustainability Report, to be published in 2019, will provide lessons learned and examine policy options from a scientific perspective.

  • Patrick Heffer, IFA’s Senior Director of the Agriculture Service, attended on 12-15 June a workshop in Kisumu and Kakamega, in Western Kenya, as part of the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)/Wagenigen University Nutrient Gap Project in Eastern Africa.

    Site visits to field experiments showed maize responding impressively to Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) fertilizers. With all three nutrients at optimal doses, yields can easily reach an impressive 5 to 6 tons per hectare under rainfed conditions, and even more using best management practices for soil health, weed and insect control.

    The project, co-sponsored by IFA, is progressing well, with maize yield gap1 and nutrient gap mapping for the three target countries (Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania) almost complete, and yield gap estimates also being developed for leguminous crops.

    In Western Kenya, farmers currently use mostly two fertilizer products: Diammonium phosphate (DAP) at planting and Calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) for topdressing. With an almost total absence of K, Sulphur (S) and micronutrient applications, there is considerable potential to increase yields in the area, although the lack of available crop- and site-specific fertilizer products in parts of western Kenya needs to be urgently addressed.

    In addition, soil health would benefit from lime application to reduce widespread soil acidity, and from the recycling of crop residues, which are usually used for feeding livestock and as an energy source for cooking. Improving access to lime, which is currently limited by logistic constraints, and increasing recycling of crop residues and livestock manure would usefully supplement better fertilizer management practices to reduce yield gaps.

    The workshop welcomed partner representatives from Wageningen University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, CCAFS’ East Africa program, Yara, the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), and the Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), as well as potential users of the project’s results.

    The project aims to address the tradeoffs between the need to enhance crop productivity while avoiding an excessive increase in nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, a compound with a high global warming potential. To be adopted, improved management practices should also be profitable to farmers and reduce risks.


    1 The yield gap is defined as the difference between farmer’s yield and attainable yield, which is about 80% of the yield potential under rainfed conditions. The nutrient gap corresponds to the additional nutrient supply required for moving from farmer’s yield to attainable yield.

  • On 8-11 May, IFA attended the meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Technical and Scientific Advice (SBSTA) in Bonn, which prepares every year the UN’s COP (Conference of Parties) on climate change.

    IFA attended three sessions of the SBSTA’s Technical Expert Meeting on “Cross-cutting issues in urban environment and land use”, which featured the topics of agriculture, private sector engagement, and deforestation. These Technical Expert Meetings bring together experts from national and sub-national governments, private sector, financial institutions and leading international organizations to examine in-depth opportunities to promote the implementation and increase in support for climate action.

    Agriculture is a predominant topic of the SBSTA this year, as Parties (Member States) are expected to prepare decisions on “Issues related to Agriculture” that should be adopted by the COP23 in November. Agriculture also featured in many countries’ Nationally Intended Contributions (NDCs), i.e. the domestic mitigation measures they wish to pursue.

    The Technical Expert Meeting on agriculture was therefore very well attended by Parties and observers, with presentations from Japan, Kenya, Brazil, New Zealand, the EU and Botswana on their mitigation and adaptation efforts. The session’s moderator Dr. Martin Frick, Director of the FAO’s Climate and Environment Division advised Parties not to isolate climate change objectives from the agricultural sector’s other equally important global goals, such as ending hunger (SDG Goal 2) and improving life on land (SDG Goal 15). Dr. Bruce Campbell, Director of the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) CGIAR research Programme, also encouraged the science and research communities to look for innovative agricultural solutions that can help improve the sector’s carbon footprint.

    The session on private sector engagement featured a panel of agribusiness representatives, including Mr. Stormyr of Yara, as well as the World Farmers’ Organization and the Global Business Alliance for 2030 (of which IFA is a member). The panel was an opportunity to highlight the important work carried out by the fertilizer industry all over the world, that helps farmers increase their resilience to climate change, improve their soils’ health and feed a growing world population. This work was encouraged by Dr. Theo de Jager, member of the WFO, who insisted that farmers needed to be lifted out of poverty to effectively conduct Climate-Smart Agriculture.

    The SBSTA will conclude on 18 May. Its outcome will set the tone for the COP23 (6-17 November 2017), where Parties are expected to make progress on the implementation of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and limiting global temperature rise to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

  • IFA’s annual Production & International Trade (PIT) Conference took place on 22-24 February in Paris.

    Over 100 attendees participated in this lively and interactive conference, marked by a number of holistic presentations from speakers such as Dr. Steiner of Danube University Kreims on innovation multi-dimensional processes; Mr. Yuminov of AF Raiffeisenbank on fertilizer project financing; Mr Ivell of Jacobs Engineering on the economics of NPK production, and by the University of Bordeaux-Larefi’s Messrs Chiappini, Jégourel and Nouail on exchange rate dynamics and commodity markets.

    Other keynote speakers tackled global challenges, for instance Mr. Hubertus Gay of the OECD, who stressed during his presentation of the FAO-OECD 10-year Agricultural Outlook the necessity to achieve SDG Goal 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture), through solutions adapted to local situations, including increased access to fertilizers.

    Ms. Chilande of IFDC, Dr. Prasad of Coromanel International, Mr. Mackle of Fertilizers Europe, and Mr. Bilby of CF Industries provided participants with trends and insights into key regional fertilizer markets; while others experts focused on global trends, such as Mr Hatfield on global SOP markets, Ms. Simonova of Fertecon on global ammonia trade outlook and Ms. Chauhan of Integer Research Ltd. who presented a global sulphur outlook.

    The presentations related to the trade and distribution of fertilizers were of high value to IFA members, for instance those of Mr. Lemarchand of Corporate Value Associates on fertilizers distribution systems, of Mr. Cox of ICIS on LNG global trade, supply and demand, of Mr Langston of SSY on the status and trends in dry bulk shipping sector.

    The conference’s main cocktail, kindly co-sponsored by CF Industries, took place in the Eiffel Tower’s Gustave Eiffel Salon.

  • This month’s very well attended UN Preparatory Meeting to the High-Level Ocean Conference, which will be held in New York from June 5 – 9, seemed to confirm that 2017 will be dedicated to making a real head start in the implementation of Goal 14 (“Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”).

    The conference is declared to be a “game changer” in reversing the continuously declining ocean health (, and its Preparatory Meeting was precisely designed to lay out the ground work by preparing the content, the discussion topics and a Call to Action for the June conference.

    IFA’s Director of Communications, Yvonne Harz-Pitre, participated in the Preparatory meeting to get a better understanding of the key issues being discussed at political level for ocean conservation. As a matter of fact, the fertilizer industry’s responsibility is already directly engaged through Target 1 of Goal 14, which calls for “marine pollution reduction of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including (…) nutrient pollution”, and the industry is not only fully cognizant about its role in helping to promote and implement fertilizer best management practices reduce losses to waterways, but has also successfully started to engage regionally in multi-stakeholder programs that address directly eutrophication, coral bleaching and hypoxia. An IFA Ocean Health Information paper will be made available soon.

  • IPNI’s three-day international event was dedicated to discuss the state of the research on this nutrient, as well as identify knowledge gaps and research tracks for the years to come. Renowned scientists were invited to share their findings on K in relation to key themes, such as the sustainable intensification of agriculture, 4R Source, Rate, Time and Place and how to bridge the gap from research to practice.

    Building on IFA’s potash stories that had been shared prior to the conference, participants learned more about the importance of K for human health, for instance about its positive impacts on kidney function, bone density and lowering of blood pressure. Long-term experiments on K in soils also showed the benefits of integrated K management (mixing manure with K fertilizers), effective in supplying crops with their nutrient needs: for example, if not enough K is present in the soil, plants can’t make the best use of the N or P present either, as K improves plant uptake of nutrients.

    A comparison of cropping systems showed the importance of site- and crop-specific K fertilization: K inputs and outputs indeed greatly vary from one region to the next. The last part on the conference addressed the link between research and practice by underlining the importance of fertilizer recommendations, to disseminate good practices. Discussions also focused on the challenge to improve K recommendations, as this is one of the lesser-known nutrients by farmers around the world.

    Make sure not to miss the upcoming e-book that will regroup all papers of the conference, or the follow-up IPNI Frontiers of Potassium regional conferences, and read more about K on

  • 2016 has been a busy year across all of our work streams…. here is a look at some of our highlights.

    IFA ‘Hall of Fame Certification’ in Product Stewardship Increases
    2016 was a significant year for IFA members on Health, Safety and Environment (SHE) performances. IFA’s Product Stewardship programme, ‘Protect & Sustain’ saw its Hall of Fame grow faster than any other year, with 11 new members became certified in 2016, bringing the total number to 47 companies from 45 countries. The new recipients included two Chinese members, following IFA’s Product & Sustain workshop in China.

    IFA’s Public Affairs’ Service Engages successfully in UN Sustainable Development Goals ‘Indicator’ definitions


    In 2016, an important outreach global issue for IFA was its continued involvement in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), part of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. IFA took part in discussions on the definition of indicators for SDGs, with particular reference to Goal 2 (Zero Hunger), Goal 14 (Ocean Health) and Goal 6 (Water).

    The association continued to emphasis the industries ongoing commitment to SDGs, representing the industry in a positive light, and to ensure that indicators are science based and measurable. IFA was Lead Discussant, panellist and presenter at the Forum at the HLPF (High Level Political Forum on sustainable development) in NYC, engaging with key influencers during the High-Level Group (HGL) on SDG indicators.

    And in October, a key achievement was reached by IFA, when it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the FAO. This centred around three Pillars: advocacy and awareness building; knowledge sharing & research, and will bring about more opportunities for engagement throughout 2017.

    Strong IFA Presence at Climate Change Conference (COP22)

    IFA enjoyed unprecedented visibility during the COP22 in Marrakesh in November, allowing us to feature the sustainable use of plant nutrients as a vital component of climate smart agriculture. IFA held its first official side-event, entitled: ‘‘How Farmers implement the Paris Agreement,’’ which attracted over 100 people. IFA also co-organised a session on sustainable and Resilient Management, as part of the event ‘‘From Science to Action,’’ spearheaded by the Government of Morocco and CCAFS (Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security of CGIAR). IFA also spoke at the Annual Forum of Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA) in Rome.

    ‘Statistics Portal’ is launched by IFA’s Production and International Trade Service (PIT)
    An online portal for statistics, ‘PITDATA’, was successfully launched by IFA last year. Designed to facilitate access to statistics on production, deliveries and exports per country for 17 mainstream products, intermediates and raw materials. Around 1 million statistics are currently available from 2002 onwards for IFA members. IFA’s Agricultural Service added an update of 2014/2015 figures on IFADATA, it’s statistical database on fertilizer consumption for crop nutrition uses. This year also saw the release of the Crop Calendars, showing members the main planting, fertilizer application and harvesting periods. The information provided through IFA’s statistics and analyses are critical for the industry and policymakers alike to offer comprehensive information about the industry and fertilizer markets

    IFA’s 84th Annual Conference

    Denis Manturov, Russian Minister for Trade and Industry, provides the opening address at IFA’s 84th Annual conference in Moscow. IFA Leadership at the Moscow Annual conference.

    The 84th IFA annual conference took place in Moscow in May, with up to 1300 in attendance from over 72 countries. The conference was opened by the Russian Minister for Trade and Industry Denis Manturov, and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich provided the closing speech.
    Several key-note speakers such as Professor Tekalign Mamo, the 2016 recipient the IFA Norman Borlaug Award, helped deliver key messages on efficient nutrient management, and how this was essential to achieve global food security and environmental sustainability. David Nabarro, Special Advisor to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), told IFA Members how the involvement of the fertilizer industry is critical to the achieve the end of world hunger by 2030, as part of the SDGs commitment.

    Promotion of Nutrient Stewardship
    In 2016 IFA continued to extensively promote the efficient and responsible distribution and use of plant nutrients. The association was actively involved in the Global Phosphorus Summit in August as well as the International Nitrogen Initiative Conference in December. In September, IFA visited the UN environment headquarters in Nairobi to discuss nutrient related challenges and opportunities, such as the UNEP’s Sustainable Rice Platform (SPR). Together with the world Farmers Organization (WFO) and the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA), a Nutrient Management Handbook was launched targeting farmers’ advisors.

    Launch of IFA’s Expert Blog coincides with Increased Digital Communications Presence

    IFA continued to increase its presence online with its twitter account reaching 10.2k followers. The launch of our ‘Expert Blog’ series ensure that a number of prominent voices in the fertilizer world now provide insight into key areas. The launch of the Regional Stories Series’ also helped showcase projects in various regions of the world that promote and implement efficient management of plant nutrients. Media campaigns on the Norman Borlaug Award, International Fertilizer Day, #the IamAG Campaign, COP22 and World Soils’ DAY also further increased presence online.

  • Research carried out for IFA by Integer Research Ltd indicates that between 2015 and 2019, the global fertilizer industry will have invested between 86 and US$91 billion in new mines and fertilizer producing facilities. A similar amount of Investment also occurred between the years 2010 and 2014.

    More than half of the investment over the 2015-2019 period will be in nitrogen capacity. Investment is expected to be reasonably well dispersed geographically, with North America at 24% accounting for the largest share, slightly exceeding East Asia at 22%, an interesting development, since East Asia previously dominated industry investment, when measured in volume terms in the 5-year period.

    The research, which developed ‘global sectoral indicators’ to examine the ‘value’, ‘employment’ and ‘size of investment,’ provides a context of the significant positive economic impact of the industry world-wide. The ‘value’ and ‘employment’ indicators looked at the year 2014, and showed that the combined value of the production of nitrogen, phosphate and potash raw materials was estimated to be US$302 billion.

    The sales value of those products sold by fertilizer companies was US$172 billion. This was calculated considering the value of products sold by producing companies and discount product consumed internally. For nitrogen and phosphates, the value of sales is around half of gross production, representing US$84 billion and US$39 billion respectively. Whereas potash is unchanged at US$23.1 billion., (largely due to the fact that most potash produced is essentially sold and not processed downstream internally).

    The fertilizer industry makes a major contribution to employment, with the analysis concluding that the fertilizer business was responsible for almost one million jobs in production around the world. The nitrogen sector alone is responsible for directly employing around half a million workers. East Asia dominates global fertilizer employment, making up around two-thirds of those employed in the industry. This is largely due to China’s large scale and fragmented phosphate and nitrogen industries, and relatively low wage rates. East Asia also accounts for nearly three-quarters of nitrogen and more than half of phosphate employment.

  •     Patrick Heffer, IFA Senior Director

    The recently concluded International Nitrogen Initiative Conference (INI 2016) held in Melbourne Australia from 4th to 8th December resulted in the signing of a ‘Melbourne Declaration’ of consensus on ‘sustainable, productive and profitable nitrogen use.

    Up to 384 delegates representing over 40 countries from the nitrogen scientific community were in attendance, which marked the 7th International Nitrogen Initiative Conference. The INI is held once every three years at different location. The Overall goal is to optimize nitrogen’s beneficial role in sustainable food production and minimise nitrogen’s negative effects on human health, and the environment, resulting from food and energy productions.

    The declaration’s overarching conclusion states that ‘’nitrogen management should strive to simultaneously improve the efficiency of nitrogen use, increase farm productivity, enhance soil health, conserve resources and reduce losses of reactive nitrogen to the environment.’’

    The published document reflects a broad range of key areas as well as the efforts which seeks to improve efficiency of nitrogen use throughout the world. A number of these areas were addressed by invited key-note speakers during the four-day event. These included: the management of nitrogen in relation to Sustainable Development Goals’ (STG’s); reaffirming of the urgent need to maintain and improve the earth’s soils, in keeping with the awareness raised from the 2015 International Year of Soils; and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change aimed at keeping global temperatures rise below 2°C. It was also noted that the conference took place for the first time in Oceania, where there are unique challenges such as conserving the fragile Great Barrier Reef (where excess reactive nitrogen and phosphorus exacerbates already strong effects of climate change and ocean acidification).

    At a policy level, the declaration recommended that national governments should not distort the prices of agricultural products and nitrogen fertilizer by subsidies that encourage inefficient use of fertilizer. Noting that smart, temporary fertilizer subsidies are justified where nitrogen fertilizer to crop price ratio is a disincentive for fertilizer use, and called for governments at all levels to reconcile national policies so as to manage nitrogen fertilizer.

    IFA, one of the conference sponsors, was represented by Patrick Heffer and Guillaume Peyroutou from its Agriculture Service division. Heffer, along with a group of selected panellists, was involved in drafting the declaration and also presented a paper entitled: ‘Global Nitrogen Fertiliser Femand and Supply: trend, current level and outlook.’ Other speakers of note included Simon Upton, Environment Director, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who outlined the OECD’s position relating to nitrogen, science and policy. Prof Achim Dobermann, Director & Chief Executive of the UK-based Rothamsted Research, further highlighted areas relating to Nitrogen and SDG’s, pointing out that agro-food systems in developed as well as developing countries need to become more precise in their management, to achieve substantial increases in N Use efficiency(NUE).

    As a side event, the conference also organised the official launch of the ‘Towards INSM’ (International Nitrogen Management System) project – a global targeted research project with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Environment Project (UNEP). The four-year endeavour will help deliver a global assessment of nitrogen threats and benefits and opportunities for improving nitrogen management.


    In line with the COP’s engaging motto this year, the fertilizer industry illustrated its readiness for implementation and action through a number of interventions, presentations and the first ever official IFA side event on the platform of observer organizations and parties, in the official UNFCCC “Blue Zone”. The event, entitled “How Farmers implement the Paris Agreement”, was co-organized by the World Farmers Organization (WFO) and attracted over 100 people. Among other speakers, Bernard Vanlauwe, Head of Research at IITA, illustrated the need for integrated plant nutrient management as a means for adaptation, and Clyde Graham, Fertilizer Canada, explained how the 4R can measurably contribute to reduce Nitrous Oxide emissions. IFA also used the venue to launch its Nutrient Management Handbook for Practionners.

    Another noticeable event was devoted to the implementation of the AAA program (Adaptation of African Agriculture), and entitled “From Science to Action”, spearheaded by CCAFS (Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security of CGIAR). This one-day event gathered over 350 representatives of government agencies, NGOs and academics to discuss concrete requirements and transformation needed to meet future food and nutrition demands as part of the Climate Change agenda. IFA co-organized a breakout session on “Sustainable and Resilient Soil Management”, where Charlotte Hebebrand explained how in the context of climate change African countries could shift directly from low-yield to high yield production by aiming for high nutrient use efficiency that could be reached through BMPs and policies that support efficient fertilizer use, Fertilizers and low emission development in sub-Saharan Africa. (2016). CCAFS. For more information: The Role of Fertilizers in Climate Smart Agriculture. (2016). IFA.

  • IFA leadership takes part in a unique session dedicated to fertilizers during the 2016 China Petroleum and Chemical International Conference. 

    IFA leadership at the 2016 China Petroleum and Chemical International Conference 13 September 2016.

    IFA President Dr Jawahery, Vice President Rakesh Kapur, IFA Agriculture Committee Chairman Kapil Mehan, IFA Director-General Charlotte Hebebrand, IFA Senior Director PIT Committee Michel Prud’homme and Mr. N Kapoor, President of Agribusiness/Adventz attended on 13 September 2016 the first ever session dedicated to fertilizers at the 2016 China Petroleum and Chemical International Conference.

    This session, co-organised by the China Petroleum and Chemical Industries Federation (CPCIF) and IFA, was an important opportunity to discuss the challenges facing the fertilizer industry in China. Moreover, the event allowed the IFA leadership to interact directly with senior industry executives and several Ministry representatives, as the session attracted more than 150 high-level participants.

    During the session, the IFA leadership presented IFA Product Stewardship, Successful Experience in Globalization of International Fertilizer Enterprises, and IFA Nutrient Stewardship, while other keynote speakers focused on the Chinese market and the upcoming policy reform of zero-growth of chemical fertilizers demand by 2020. In addition, IFA was also honoured to welcome its first Chinese companies into IFA’s Protect & Sustain “Hall of Fame:” ChinaBlue Chemical and Yuntianhua Group.

    The session was followed by an IFA luncheon, which allowed for more exchanges between IFA leadership and CEOs of the IFA China Consultative Group.

    This first Fertilizer Session at the CPCIF Annual Conference was very useful to IFA, who welcomed the opportunity to strengthen ties with IFA Chinese members, and get valuable perspectives on the country’s fertilizer challenges and fertilizer-related policies. IFA will build on the learnings of this meeting by continuing to support innovation and industry’s benchmarking, promoting best nutrient management practices in China, and engaging in future similar Fertilizer Sessions.


    Farming First’s Global Youth Campaign #IamAg was launched on 03 October 2016, seeking to encourage young people to pursue careers in agriculture. This campaign is showing considerable success on social media, thanks to its varied content, including a blog that relates young people’s stories and why they chose to pursue agricultural careers.

    The campaign got even some traction in national UK media: on 05 October, Sir Gordon Conway, Director of Farming First supporter Agriculture for Impact also made a case for the campaign by writing a piece in the UK's Telegraph on the need to get more young people into agriculture!

    If you are interested in this campaign, share your perspective on Twitter, using the #IamAg twitter handle, visit the Farming First Blog for more stories, or sign up to its Twibbon or Thunderclap pages to support it further!


  • IFA, in its role of co-chair of Farming First, is pleased to announce the Launch of a Global Youth Campaign #IamAg. The campaign is designed to encourage young people to take up agricultural careers. Over a whole month, a series of videos will illustrate career choices in areas such as science, research, development, marketing, sales, advocacy and international development work. Examples of agriculture professions will be given through quotes from youth blogger or twibbon for use on twitter and facebook profiles.


    Keep up with the campaign by following #IamAg or sign up for Thunderclap to get a timed tweet about all the great opportunities that exist in agriculture. Use our toolkit and find out how to get involved.

  • On 25-27 October 2016 in Singapore, IFA will be organising the Crossroads Asia Pacific and Production & International Trade conferences jointly for the first time.

    Come learn about the specificities of the Asia and Pacific region and perspectives on key industry supply-related issues!

    This Joint Conference aims to provide attendees with high-level presentations and discussions on current key topics to the industry, in Asia and globally.

    The Agronomic Workshop, held on 25 October, will focus on two key topics, sustainable nutrient management and adapting to and mitigating climate change.

    On October 2016 three key sessions will be held, on the Regional Policy Environment; Fertilizer Project Financing and Trade Perspectives and Fertilizer Trade and Logistic Facilitation. The last day of the Conference will be dedicated to the Regional Fertilizer Outlook. Find the detailed conference agenda here.

    This conference will also be a key opportunity to network, between IFA Members as well as newcomers acquainting themselves with the Association in view of potential membership.

    Join the already 300 registered participants, and learn more about policy developments, agronomic matters, the outlook for regional agriculture, and fertilizer demand and supply in the Asia/Pacific region and globally!

    Be sure not to miss this unique event, register today!

  • IFA and AFAP call on African leaders and policy makers to accelerate smallholders’ access to fertilizers during the African Green Revolution Forum 2016.

    The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2016 was held in Nairobi on 6-9 September, under the theme: “Seize the moment: "Africa Rising through Agricultural Transformation”. More than 1,500 attendees from 40 countries were in attendance, including African Heads of State, government ministers, business leaders, financial institutions, agribusiness firms, farmers…

    The outcome of the AGRF 2016 was a success, where its major partners agreed to pledge more than $30 billion over the next ten years to ensure African agriculture is transformed to help lift smallholders out of poverty. You can read all the Decisions and Commitments from the 2016 AGRF, the Nairobi Communiqué, here.

    The African Fertilizer & Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) and the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) took this opportunity to shed light on smallholders’ access to fertilizers, through a side event on 06 September “Seizing the Moment, Accelerating Fertilizer Usage among African Smallholder Farmers”. The side-event focused on the question: “What is stopping fertilizer reaching the 500 million smallholder farmers in Africa, and what can be done?”, and brought together a range of public and private sector actors to share their perspectives on the subject.

    Prof. Thomas S. Jayne of Michigan State University and Co-Director of the Alliance for African Partnership delivered the keynote address of the side-event. The panel session, moderated by AFAP’s Vice President Richard Mkandwire (read his interview in the expert blog here), had several high-level participants, including: Former President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Chairman of AFAP’s Board of Trustees Dr. Namanga Ngongi; President & CEO of AFAP Jason Scarpone; Ashish Lahotia, CEO Fertilizer & Agri Inputs, ETG Group; Julia Franklin, Global Sourcing Director of One Acre Fund; Katrin Kuhlmann, President and Founder, New Markets Lab; and IFA’s Senior Director of IFA’s Agriculture Service, Patrick Heffer.

    The side event highlighted the need to build a supportive business environment for small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) involved in the fertilizer value chain, a critical but still weak link to improve fertilizer supply to smallholders. This requires a number of interventions, of which an enabling policy environment, improved infrastructures and better access to finance.

    Strengthening the network of hub dealers and agri-input retailers is likely to improve availability and affordability of fertilizers to smallholders a goal shared by policymakers, the development community and business actors. In the meantime, research and extension organizations, NGOs and businesses must partner to teach farmers how to better manage fertilizers so that their use is profitable and helps smallholders to progressively transform their farming activity into a business that will improve their living standard.

  • The very first meeting of the SDG Business Forum took place on 19 July 2016 at the UN Headquarters in New York, on the occasion of the first High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

    The sessions of the HPLF included the voluntary review of 22 countries’ SDGs, the review of progress made for each goal and for cross-cutting issues, as well as presentations of recommendations made by the ECOSOC (the UN’s Social and Economic Council) and other organisations. This HLPF meeting was the first major review of the SDGs that had been ratified in September 2015. Read more about the HPLF here.

    The HPLF was a good opportunity for IFA to create exposure to its ongoing SDG-related activities and meet key attendees during bilateral meetings, such as the new Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), H.E. Amira Gornass.

    This first SDG Business Forum invited leaders from the private sector to share with other stakeholders (civil society, government representatives, UN agencies, etc.) their perspectives and achievements in implementing the SDGs.

    IFA’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Yvonne Harz Pitre, chaired the Business Forum’s session on “Monitoring the SDGs: The Business Perspective” where she advocated for the involvement of business in defining the SDG indicators, as they will help track the progress of their implementation, or bring to light eventual hurdles. She argued that the private sector’s input was crucial, as indicators needed to reflect “economic, trade and business realities”.

    The fertilizer industry was also represented by Bernhard Mauritz Stormyr, Head of Sustainability Management Strategy and Business Development at Yara, and Tip O’Neill, CEO of IRM and a longstanding member of IFA. They both spoke during side events about the importance of partnerships to achieve the global goals, in particular Goal 2 to “End hunger, Achieve Food Security and Improved Nutrition, and Promote Sustainable Agriculture”. Tip O’Neill stressed the fertilizer industry’s active involvement in partnerships to promote and implement best management practices worldwide like the 4Rs, for instance with the FAO and WFO.

    He and Yvonne Harz-Pitre both stressed that SDG indicators, if realistically defined, can help to measure the improvements that are being made through new partnership models. They can provide the necessary framework for national and initiatives to be adapted to other regions; they are monitoring tools that can help to scale them up.

    The SDG Business Forum was an exciting and positive experience for IFA as it reinforced the place of the private sector in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    You can access the SDG Business Forum’s full program and speakers’ bios here.

    Re-watch the session through UN Web TV! Part 1 & Part 2 are now accessible.

    For more information on the Sustainable Development Goals, visit our SDG page.

  • IFA has released a new publication written by Dr. Harold F. Reetz, Jr, entitled “Fertilizers and their Efficient Use”. 

    The book aims at improving the general understanding of fertilizers, their use and best management practices that have been developed around the world to enhance crop production, improve farm profitability and resource efficiency, and reduce environmental impacts in crop production.

    The book focuses on nutrient stewardship, i.e. nutrient management from economic, environmental, and social perspectives, with the aim of serving as a reference guide to people outside of the agricultural sector. Key principles of nutrient management, like the 4Rs (applying the right fertilizer, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place) are also explained in detail.

    “This book is meant to be a guide to nutrient management, not designed to answer the questions “How to…” but rather “why?” comments the author Dr. Reetz, Jr. “Fertilizers are often targeted for causing environmental harm, ranging from pollution of water to GHG emissions. This book explains the science behind the use of fertilizers, and moreover, how the fertilizer industry, along with research and extension communities, has developed best management practices built around nutrient stewardship that ensure minimum environmental damage.”

    “We strongly recommend this book to those wanting a better understanding of what fertilizers are and why they are so crucial to food security. This book provides key learnings about crop nutrient management, building on experiences in developed and developing country contexts. It will prove a very useful read to any person interested in these topics”, added Patrick Heffer, Senior Director of IFA’s Agriculture Service.  

    The publication is available in hardcopy or to download in IFA’s Library.

    About the author
    Dr Harold F. Reetz, Jr: Dr. Reetz is an agronomic consultant and owner of Reetz Agroonomics LLC. which provides consulting services in agronomy, high yield cropping systems, precision farming technologies and on-farm research. He previously worked with the International Plant Nutrition Institute, as Midwest Director (US) and as President of the Foundation for Agronomic Research. He has focused his career on integrated crop and soil management systems for high yield crop production, promoting technologies for nutrient management and precision agriculture.  

  • The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA) held its Annual Forum in Rome on 13-17 June 2016, and its 130 members, including IFA came to coordinate their efforts on climate-smart agriculture (CSA). IFA’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Yvonne Harz-Pitre, was a speaker in the panel “Opportunities Ahead” for CSA. 

    She explained that though the fertilizer industry accounted for 1.5% of global GHG emissions, deriving from their application, it was aware of its responsibilities when it came to climate change abatement. Indeed, fertilizers can play an important role in the fight against climate change by contributing to plant growth, and helping to produce soil organic matter, which absorbs CO2 from the environment, which is why IFA has joined and fully supports GACSA. 

    The focus of the fertilizer industry in relation to CSA is to make sure that agricultural intensification on arable land (which prevents deforestation and increased GHG emissions) needed to be both sustainable and sustainably managed. This entails the correct use of plant nutrients and maximization of the uptake of nutrients by plants. Better use efficiency and responsible fertilizer use, she stressed, needed to be considered as a part of an integrated strategy to help farmers adapt better to weather variabilities and other effects of climate change.  

    Mrs. Harz-Pitre also gave examples of how the fertilizer industry currently handled the challenges associated to climate change, for instance by developing Best Management Practices like the 4Rs (applying the right nutrient source, at the right time, at the right location by respecting the right dosage), combining organic and mineral fertilizers, conducting regular and precise soil analysis and using novel application techniques like Microdosing. 

    While all these innovations set the fertilizer industry in the right direction, she explained that the current challenge was reaching out to all farmers in the world (around 500 million of them!)  to implement these changes- it’s a challenge, but also an opportunity for GACSA, she argued, who brings naturally the public and the private sector together and whose members agree on the central and critical role farmers have in achieving CSA.

    She therefore proposed for GACSA to evolve into a platform of public-private-governmental projects that focus on outreach and training on farmers.

  • We are an industry that cares about its environment, people, neighborhoods and facilities.”
    IFA Chairman Dr. Jawahery
    More than 1,300 participants from 72 countries gathered in Moscow for IFA’s 84th Annual Conference from 29 May to 01 June. Thanks to high-quality speakers and a varied programme, the Conference’s two sessions and side-meetings were highly attended, and IFA Members were given multiple opportunities to network.

    A testament to its growing reputation and popularity, the Conference was opened and closed by two high-level officials of the Russian government: the Russian Minister for Trade and Industry Denis Manturov, who gave the conference’s opening address, and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich who gave a closing speech on last evening.

    One of the key messages of this IFA Annual Conference was that efficient nutrient management was essential to achieve global food security and environmental sustainability, and that fertilizers played crucial role in sustainable agricultural intensification. Several speakers reinforced this message, such as Professor Mamo, the 2016 recipient of the Norman Borlaug Award; Mr. JB Penn, Chief Economist of John Deere; Harald Von Witzke of the Humboldt University; Xin Zhan of the University of Maryland and Dirk Jan Kennes of Rabobank.

    Mr. David Nabarro, Special Advisor to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon on the Sustainable Development Goals, told IFA Members:
    Achieving zero hunger and transforming agriculture and food system underpin the achievements of most Sustainable Development Goals (…) the involvement of the fertilizer industry is critical to achieve the end of world hunger by 2030. Increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable way is the only feasible way to end hunger and malnutrition.
    You can watch his full speech here.
    In addition, the Fertilizer Demand and Market Outlook sessions provided valuable insights into the economic and agricultural outlooks of key regions, such as Russia and Ukraine, presented by Vladimir Alexandrov of McKinsey & Company; Argentina and Brazil, presented by André Souto Maior Pessoa of Agroconsult; and of the EU presented by Javier Goni Del Cacho. Armelle Gruère, Patrick Heffer and Michel Prud’homme of the IFA Secretariat presented respectively the medium-Term outlook for world agriculture and fertilizer demand and the fertilizers and raw materials global supply outlook for 2016-2020.

    IFA also rewarded four Members that had achieved excellence in product stewardship- i.e. that have improved the safety, security and sustainability of their fertilizer production plants, and have chosen the business partners that share the same values- with its Protect & Sustain certification. This brought the number of producers certified to 29 in 43 countries! It was also decided during the Conference that the certification would now be extended to all IFA Members, not only fertilizer producers.

    Young fertilizer leaders were also given a chance to network during the conference, following a workshop where three high-level executives, Mr Chuck Magro, President and CEO of Agrium, Mr Dmitry Konyaev, CEO of Uralchem and Ms. Alexa Hegenrother, Managing Director of K+S Kali Gmbh, explained their personal experiences and shared their insights of the industry. The creation of a new Fertilizer Academy was announced, that will offer interested participants two day-long courses per year on key topics of interest to them. Last but not least, participants were invited to two exceptional evenings: a cocktail reception followed by the world-renowned ballet Giselle at the Bolshoi on 30 May; and an evening of surprises and discovery of the ‘Mysterious Russian Soul’ on 01 June.
    Last reply on July 31, 2016 by Mr Tushar MESHRAM

  • IFA’s Director of Communication and Public Affairs, Yvonne Harz-Pitre, attended the WFO General Assembly on 4-7 May, held in Livingstone, Zambia, where the main discussions focused on achieving farmers’ growth through capacity building and innovative solutions to boost sustainable agriculture, fostering economic growth through partnership programs and strengthening farmers’ involvement in a global policy dialogue on agriculture.

    Mrs Harz-Pitre spoke twice during the panel sessions, and highlighted the importance of farmers for the fertilizer industry.

    She also emphasized the relation between improved agriculture productivity and plant nutrition management, explaining that poor farming techniques were as detrimental to soil quality as extreme weather patterns. “When we talk about reducing poverty, increasing food production and fostering long-term economic growth, healthy soils are at the core of the problem and an essential key to the solution”, she argued.

    Yvonne Harz-Pitre speaks at the Farmer’s Growth Session
    of the WFO General Assembly on 4 May

    She finally gave examples of plant nutrition management farmers could implement:
    • Integrated Plant Nutrition Management (IPNM), which consists of combining organic sources available on the farm and supplementing them with manufactured fertilizers;
    • The 4Rs : Which entails choosing the right nutrient –mineral and organic source, and applying it at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place;
    • Precision agriculture or microdosing, which consists in applying a small quantity of fertilizer with the seed at planting time or as top dressing 3 – 4 weeks after emergence;
    • Using Slow- and Controlled- Release and Stabilised Fertilizers, which delay the release of nutrients to the plant when they are needed, and reduce losses to the environment;
    • Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM), which means conducting regular soil analysis, to gather a good knowledge of the local soil composition and choose the appropriate fertilizer.
    Find out more about the WFO General Assembly 2016 here.

  • On April 4-6 2016, IFA and New Ag International co-organised the 4th International Conference on Slow- and Controlled-Release and Stabilised Fertilizers (SCRSFs). The event was organized in Beijing because China is the largest and fastest expanding market for SCRSFs.

    Zhai Jidong, COO of Kingenta, speaking on the Chinese market on slow- and controlled-release and stabilized fertilizers

    Held every three years, the conference gathers each time more participants, and this year more than 300 people attended to discuss developments related to SCRSFs.

    Five sessions spun over the course two days dedicated to the market for SCRSFs; emerging markets and technologies for SCRSFs; new SCRSFs products; agronomics and economics; and government policies.

    According to Patrick Heffer, IFA’s Agriculture Service Director, who chaired the second session on emerging markets and technologies for SCRSFs, the assessment of the conference by the members of the IFA Working Group of Special Products was very positive, thanks to the relevance of the programme and quality of the presentations.

    The global market for SCRSFs has considerably grown in the last few years, as their use is spreading from non-agriculture and/or speciality crops in Europe and North America to commodity agriculture in different regions of the world. Asia is the fastest growing market for SCRSFs, where shortage of labour drives the market in both Japan and, more recently, China.

    The development of the SCRSFs market is mostly influenced by agronomic and economic considerations. However, in some countries, governmental policies may have a strong impact, such as in India, where all domestically-used urea must be coated with neem oil (a nitrification inhibitor) since May 2015. In contrast, regulations may affect the market by setting unjustified mandates, as exemplified by current provisions on polymer coatings and methylene-urea in the current draft EU fertilizer regulation. “SCRSFs are part of the toolbox for implementing 4R Nutrient Stewardship –applying the right nutrient source at the right rate, at the right time, in the right place– and achieving greater nutrient performance. SCRSFs supplement the set of fertilizer best management practices available to farmers and offer options to address three of the nutrient management areas: source, rate and time” said Patrick Heffer.

    The presentations from the conference are also available for members in Library.

    You can find out more about SCRSFs by reading our publication on the subject:

    Be sure not to miss the next International Conference on SCRSFs, planned in 2019!

  • The Global Technical Symposium, an event organised by the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) every two years, was held on March 14-17 in New Delhi, India. Organised around the theme “Clean and Efficient Fertilizer Production: Reaching New Levels of Excellence”, the Symposium offered its participants several sessions dedicated to the topics of climate change, innovation, and Best Available Techniques (BAT).

    The four-day event was a success in terms of attendance - 140 participants from 70 companies and 30 countries - and in terms of quality, with 35 high-levels speakers such as IFA President and CEO of GPIC Dr Jawahery; IFA Director General Mrs Charlotte Hebebrand; Mr Rakesh Kapur, Chairman of the Fertiliser Association of India; Dr Udai Shanker Awasthi, Managing Director and CEO of IFFCO; Mr Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Dr Eric Masanet, Head of Unit of the International Energy Agency.

    Opening Session: Dr. Jawahery welcomes participants

    The speakers highlighted the numerous ways in which the fertilizer industry was already adapting to complex global challenges such as climate change by advancing innovation in its production processes, increasing its energy efficiency and cutting its Greenhouse Gas emissions. They also pointed at various opportunities to further improve on all parameters in the mid- and long-term.

    Dr Udai Shanker Awasthi cited the impressive results of India’s Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) mechanism (a market-based mechanism that incentivizes the industrial sector to increase its energy efficiency), thanks to which indian fertilizer plants achieved 3.8 billion CO2 emissions reductions between 2009 and 2015. Moreover, he pointed out that these reductions were possible through the use of innovative technologies applied to ageing plants, proving that they could still be efficient. These findings correlated with those of IFA’s 4th edition of the triennial Energy Efficiency and CO2 Emissions Benchmark, published in 2015.

    Mrs Hebebrand explained the new challenges and opportunities following the Climate Change conference in Paris (COP 21), and stressed the importance of innovative technologies and exchange of best practices in helping the fertilizer industry achieve GHG reductions in line with some very ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) unanimously adopted by 196 States in December 2015.

    Dr Jawahery also took this occasion to congratulate the industry upon its improvements in production while observing its safety, health and environmental principles (see our press release for his full statement). The last day of the 2016 Symposium was dedicated to a visit of the Protect & Sustain-certified IFFCO Kalol Unit which participants like Dr Julian Hilton considered as one of the Association’s best excursions to-date.

    Technical visit of the IFFCO Kalol Unit

    More pictures of the event here.
    Be sure not to miss IFA’s Global Safety Summit next year, in Amman, Jordan, 27-30 March 2017! For event information, please contact

    Last reply on July 31, 2016 by Mr Tushar MESHRAM

  • IFA’s Director General, Charlotte Hebebrand took part in the breakfast debate organised by the French Foundation FARM on 9 March in Paris, to discuss the concept of a Responsible Plant Nutrition. The Director of FARM, Mr Jean-Christophe Debar, moderated the discussion between Mrs Hebebrand and Mr Bruno Moreau, Director of Biopost Cofuna, and Mr Florent Maraux, from the CIRAD’s Research and Strategy Direction. The event was recorded and their interventions can be listened to here.

    While some may have been expecting a debate on the pros and cons of organic versus mineral fertilizers, all three speakers agreed on the importance of integrated nutrient management. Building upon her recent article “Responsible Plant Nutrition”, Mrs Hebebrand explained that the fertilizer industry and farmers were facing a common challenge: to feed an ever-growing global population while reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. Fertilizers are crucial to achieve food security, and currently feed half of the planet. However, the fertilizer industry is aware of the environmental damages that can result from the incorrect use of its products and is therefore proactively addressing this issue, notably through advocating for a Responsible Plant Nutrition.

    Responsible Plant Nutrition entails applying fertilizers in a more efficient and effective way in order to maximise nutrient uptake by plants, and thus considerably reducing nutrient losses to the soil, water and air.

    Some of the concrete ways that Responsible Plant Nutrition can be achieved is through the implementation of the 4R method, which entails a more crop and site specific fertilization of applying the right nutrient source, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place, as illustrated below:

    Source: 4R Nutrient Stewardship - A Policy Toolkit. IFA, March, 2015

    Speciality Fertilisers are another solution. These are becoming gradually available to farmers, and include innovations such as slow-release fertilizers (to produce a gradual release of nutrients to plants), or adding water-soluble fertilizers to irrigation water.

    Mrs Hebebrand pointed out that the concepts of integrated nutrient management and balanced plant nutrition are certainly not new, but that their importance needs to be re-emphasised. A renewed focus on long established plant nutrition principles, combined with innovative products and methods, hold significant potential to advance agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability.

    All speakers agreed that African farmers, in particular smallholders, need better access to organic and mineral fertilizers, as well as Best Management Practices to ensure responsible fertilization. Indeed, in most of the countries of the continent, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa, minimal access to fertilizers has led to a subsequent nutrient depletion of soils and accelerated the desertification of significant parts of the land. Improving the farmers’ access to fertilizers and making sure these are used in a sustainable way would be an important step in reducing hunger in these countries’ rural areas and replenishing their soils.

    Charlotte Hebebrand, “Responsible Plant Nutrition”
    From FARM’s Point of View Series no 4. December 2015
    Available at the IFA Library.

  • IFA co-organised a workshop with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) on 22-23 February in Marrakesh, Morocco designed for scientists, and industry agronomists and marketing specialists interested in the topics of soil fertility and crop productivity in Africa.

    More than 30 participants gathered for this 1.5 day event where they heard presentations on the state of digital soil mapping under the leadership of the African Soil Information service (AfSIS) and achievements in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania. The benefits of partnering with AfSIS were put forward by the speakers. The approach developed by AfSIS is a game changer that could help the industry develop fertilizers better adapted to the diversity of African soils and crops and therefore respond to the needs of African smallholders.

    The workshop provided an exciting opportunity for science and industry to engage in an open, 2-way dialogue and it ended with a stimulating discussion on a business model that could ensure the sustainability of AfSIS, benefit considerably the industry and allow for African smallholders to have better access to fertilizers adapted to their soil and crops.

    This workshop was a first and very important step in getting the scientific and industry stakeholders to discuss issues of common interest, and IFA will seek to build on this momentum, with its partners, the Gates Foundation and AFAP.

    Participants in the Gates Foundation-IFA-AFAP workshop. 22-23 February 2016

  • With these words Tekalign Mamo, FAO’s Soil Ambassador and Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture of Ethiopia, introduced the final session of the “Seminar on Sustainable Plant Nutrition and Soil Health” that IFA had organized on the occasion of its Agriculture and Communications meeting in Rome. Over 92 people from 32 countries attended the seminar, and a distinct selection of high-level speakers from the FAO, IFAD, AFAP, including a representative of the World Farm Association (WFO) were invited to provide views and ideas of how to ensure continuity in soil quality promotion, and how to offer better access to finance and knowledge.

    Michael Hamp of IFAD and Jason Scarpone of the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) presented their work on innovative financing for agricultural development. There is a continuing need to develop stable financial systems to support agricultural production (and to do this as innovatively as possible). Access to finance in Africa is particularly challenging, as many lenders do not see this type of investment as profitable or easy to monitor. In her opening speech, FAO’s Marcela Villareal pointed out that investment in agriculture needs to increase substantially through 2030 – by US$260 billion per year – to achieve the goal of eliminating hunger, and Vincenzo Lenucci of the World Farmers’ Organization (WFO) reminded the Seminar that farmers must be at the center of efforts to address the challenge of maintaining soil health, with education and extension essential.

    Other speakers showcased work by their organizations related to making new practices and products available to farmers. Samy Gaiji of FAO presented the new TECA database of agricultural technologies and practices for small producers, and Debra Turner of FAO presented the “Save and Grow” campaign, designed to help guide policy makers on sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production.

    “Soil needs a strong voice” was one of the conference resolutions made by Ronald Vargas, Soils and Land Management Officer at the FAO and Leader of the Global Soil Partnership. Mr. Vargas outlined a promising number of new Global Soil Partnership programs on soil restoration, statistics and capacity development that are on the verge of being implemented. He closed the seminar by emphasizing the need for a “daily joint effort”.

    from left to right : Vincenzo Lenucci ( WFO), Ronald Vargas ( FAO), Claire Chenu (soil ambassador), Tekalign Mamo (soil ambassador), Kapil Mehan ((Zuari AgroChemicals Ltd), Steve Mc Grath (Rothamsted Research), Barrie Bain (IFA)

  • Profile image
    Looking back at 2015
    January 18, 2016
    2015 has been a year of growth and development for IFA and the fertilizer industry. On a global scale, events like The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit have given IFA an opportunity to discuss the relevance of fertilizer, especially in regards to food security. Internally there has been also been development, with Dr Jawahery appointed as IFA President.

    As 2015 draws to a close, we have curated a selection of highlights from the year that are of significance to the fertilizer industry and its growth along with its relevance to promoting food security and an end of poverty.

    1. Launching Growing Smart Together [source]
    2. IFA launched in April its creative communications product on soils the “Growing Smart Together” website. The website featuring 40 videos of multi-stakeholder experts talking about the importance of soils, including 10 videos of IFA members was well received by stakeholders and featured at the Berlin Global Soil Week and displayed at the CFS event in Rome in October.

    3. IFA Hard Hat Campaign
    4. In order to promote safety in the fertilizer industry more visually, IFA launched a Hard Hat Campaign. About 400 photos from 40 countries were received (visible on IFA’s Instagram album) and for the Strategic Forum in November a poster and an animation was produced.

    5. IFA’s 83rd Annual Conference held in Istanbul [source]
    6. The 83rd IFA annual conference took place in Istanbul in May. At the conference, Dr Jawahery was elected as President of the IFA with outgoing President Esin Mete stating that “Abdulrahman Jawahery is one of the most experienced executives in the fertilizer industry and his passion for the industry and for sustainability and SHE issues are a great asset to the Association”.

      The 2015 IFA Norman Borlaug Award for excellence in crop nutrition research was assigned to Prof. Michael McLauglin, Australia, for his research on soil fertility and plant nutrition.

    7. Sustainable Development Goals Summit [source]
    8. The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and their associated 169 targets were ratified at the 70th UN General Assembly in September. IFA participated in numerous outreach missions surrounding the SDGs meeting with over 50 country missions and UN staff.

      The SDGs are positive with respect to encouraging improved productivity for smallholder farmers. They also address more complex issues such as natural resource depletion and environmental degradation, including drought and climate change.

    9. CFS in Rome [source]
    10. In October, a delegation comprising of seven members and led by Chairman Abdulrahman Jawahery and Director General Charlotte Hebebrand attended the 42nd session on World Food Security (CFS). Dr Jawahery was invited to speak at the FAO Director General Meeting and in a Plenary Session. The mission included several bilaterals with Member States and Charlotte Hebebrand participated on panels in two side events on soil health and nutrient management.

      Chairman Jawahery promoted the vision that the efficient and responsible production, distribution and use of plant nutrients play a vital role in achieving global nutrition security and sustainable development. The delegation also extensively explained how the industry strives to translate this vision into action by promoting best soil management practices, by encouraging expertise sharing and by facilitating the implementation of sustainable fertilizer use through partnerships with international organizations and NGOs.

    11. COP21 – the relationship between climate change and fertilizers [source]
    12. In December of this year, COP21 made a historic announcement of a global agreement to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions in an attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C. IFA stated that the focus of greenhouse gas reduction efforts must be on improving the relative carbon intensity of agricultural crops grown with the assistance of fertilizers, rather than on reducing absolute emissions. Fertilizers play a key role in helping to maintain the integrity of the globe’s forests by allowing for increased productivity on arable land, thus forestalling deforestation and its associated green house gas emissions.

    2015 has been an exciting year for IFA. Large global developments have allowed us to emphasize the relevance of fertilizer and its importance to sustainability and food security on a global scale. For more updates, quotes and comments follow us on @FertilizerNews.

  • Some thoughts from John Drexhage (IFA Consultant)

    copyright: istock

    The Paris Agreement has now been in place for close to one month. After an initial flurry of headlines and blogs, the issue receded from most media headlines within a week. Commentaries ranged from characterizing Paris as a “magnificent failure” (Eric Reguly of The Globe and Mail, December 18, 2015) to the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres referring to it as “….a decisive turning point inscribed into history….”.

    Success or failure, there can be no doubt that the agreement in Paris represents a ‘game changer’ in at least one respect – virtually ALL countries have now agreed to take national actions to reduce GHG emissions. For those of us who have followed these negotiations for more than two decades, it is difficult to exaggerate the enormity of this development. Yes, there is still the expectation that developed countries will continue to “take the lead”, especially in financing, but the fact that all the globes’ economies have committed to take actions that will, in one form or another, work to put a price on carbon is an enormous step forward (even a strictly regulatory approach has the impact of putting a cost on GHG emissions).

    What was most remarkable about this ‘tectonic shift’ in the negotiations’ architecture is its voluntary, ‘bottom up’ character: over 170 countries willingly submitted plans prior to Paris (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs) exceeding all expectations. So, we can now safely say that the narrative coming out of Paris is that all major economies are now on the ‘mitigation’ train and the train has left the station.

    Which, of course, begs the question: where is it headed? The ultimate destination is clear: holding the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels”. What’s not clear is how countries are expected to achieve such an ambitious target. In a most informative blog by PWC’s Jonathan Grant, we are looking at decreasing the globe’s current carbon intensity rate of 1.3% per annum (2000 – 2014) to 6.3% every year until 2100 – five times our current rate – if we are to not exceed the 2°C. And while the science on the impacts of 1.5°C is particularly ominous for small island states and coastal cities, the prospects of not exceeding that mark is extremely slim: as the IPCC has confirmed with a current annual output of 50 Gigatonnes of GHG emissions per year, and with 500 Gt representing the total amount of GHG emissions that can be emitted before 1.5 is breached (thanks to Axel Michaelowa for reprising IPCC’s work on this), there simply is no room for reaching the lower global temperature mark, particularly given that major developing countries only intend to peak their emissions by 2030, at the earliest.

    The only way in which the world’s economies are able to ‘turn on a dime’ to meet such ambitious global temperature targets is via the market place and private financing. Was the signal provided at Paris strong enough to significantly change mainstream investment decisions? It is one thing for the Sustainable Development unit in each of the investment houses to mouth the appropriate ‘green’ signals; for investment to truly turn the corner, it must provide venture funds in new technologies and practices the likes of which have never been seen before.

    Mission Innovation, the industry-major economies initiative to promote and support breakthrough energy technologies is one such important step. But infinitely more critical will be the behaviour and financing decisions that take place in domestic banks in each country: the mobilization of private domestic resources will be THE indicator in signalling a sea change in financing development. With respect to extractive industries, this will not mean closing down operations tomorrow: however, what it should mean are sufficiently robust carbon prices that will work to finance low GHG emissions solutions, including of course, carbon capture and storage. And it should also mean a strategic examination of how and which resources and technologies will be required to supply the net carbon zero future.

    The other important consideration is the extent to which the comprehensive Paris agreement works to allay competitiveness concerns, commonly referred to as ‘carbon leakage’ where investments will naturally flow to those jurisdictions without regulatory/GHG pricing policies in place. While all major economies have submitted INDCs, it is also evident that the relative aspiration of country’s mitigation plans vary considerably – China is committing to peak its emissions not before 2030, while India has not indicated any plans to peak their emissions at this point. Is the Paris Agreement an effective ‘first step’ in equalizing the playing field or a mere ruse by continuing to provide some economies with decided competitiveness advantages?

    Finally, there are at least 3 areas of the global economy that remain curiously overlooked in the climate change negotiations: international airline travel, international shipping and agriculture. Regarding the first two areas, very tentative progress is being made in their multilateral homes – the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization – and one would expect that the issue of whether sufficient progress is being made in those forums would be a topic for discussion in future UNFCCC sessions.

    Agriculture is an entirely different matter – the issue of overlooking agriculture’s contribution in addressing climate change has gone on far too long in the climate negotiations. With over 100 INDCs including agriculture and their relevant GHG emissions as part of their mitigation plans, the multilateral climate community can no longer ignore developing appropriate guidelines and methodologies for this critical sector. At the end of the day, while Paris represents a significant success in fundamentally changing the architecture of the negotiations, one can only be humbled by the challenge that faces us all. Certainly, there would have been virtually no prospect of success without the kind of agreement that was reached December 12. However, there is every right to wonder whether it will be enough: despite this having taken over 20 years, we have only passed the easy part. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether that represents a ‘magnificent failure’ or a ‘brave beginning’.

    John Drexhage provides consulting services for resource-based industries on issues related to climate change and sustainable development, including the International Fertilizers Industry Association. Additional blogs can be found on his website at

  • The urgency of responding to the effects of global climate change was emphasized by the active participation of more than 190 countries in the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, which concluded on 12 December. IFA appreciates and welcomes the successful outcome of this conference and looks forward now to further contributing actively to put the Paris agreement into action.

    As the world population continues to grow, the use of fertilizers will be critical to maximize crop yields. At the same time, the fertilizer industry recognizes that it is essential to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by improving the relative carbon intensity of agricultural crops produced using fertilizers.

    The fertilizer industry works with scientists, farmers, international organizations and governments to develop and adopt innovative agricultural practices that contribute to GHG emissions reduction. In order to optimize product efficiency and minimize nutrient losses to the environment, many initiatives have been taken place in countries to implement soil-specific and crop-specific nutrient management practices. For example:
    • Fertilizer best management practices consist in applying the right fertilizer source at the right rate, right time and right place (the 4RS).
    • Research and training on soil analysis makes it possible to develop locally adapted protocols for application rates, e.g. with respect to soils’ moisture content, pH or temperature.
    • Precision agriculture provides a range of monitoring technologies to help farmers apply exactly the right amounts and types of fertilizers.
    • Integrated plant nutrient management promotes better integration of locally available organic nutrient sources (such as animal manure and compost) with mineral fertilizers.

    Fertilizers also help to maintain the integrity of the world’s forest ecosystems by making arable land more productive, thus forestalling deforestation and its related emissions. In addition, fertilizers increase the carbon sequestration potential of agricultural soils by contributing to the build-up of soil organic matter. Increases in soil organic matter result in higher nutrient uptake. And nutrients stimulate plant growth, so that more CO2 is absorbed from the atmosphere.

    Moreover, fertilizer manufacturers worldwide have taken substantial measures in recent years to reduce their production-related GHG emissions (currently 2.5% of total GHG emissions associated with fertilizers) and to improve their energy efficiency.

    COP 21 was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

    For more on the COP21, go to #COP21 and #ParisAgreement. Also follow @FertilizerNews for further coverage and comment.

  • At the recent 42 session of the UN Committee on World Food Security, the private sector enjoyed the tremendous opportunity to have a dialog with country representatives who are actively involved in the decision-making and policy design for eradicating hunger and malnutrition worldwide, while reducing poverty and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. The fertilizer industry was well-represented at this important event by a strong delegation comprised of Director General Charlotte Hebebrand, and the following members: Tip O’Neill (United States), Nina Khangaldyan (Russia), Bente Slaatten (Norway) and Antonella Harrison (United Kingdom).

    The key messages delivered by the fertilizer industry and the broader private sector resonated well with country representatives. One important point made by IFA President Dr. Abdulrahman Jawahery was that the private sector is very diverse. It ranges from farm cooperatives and small businesses helping farmers increase their productivity and get a better price for their products, up to large multinational companies, which contribute to provide solutions to improve use efficiency and facilitate processing and trade of agricultural products.

    A second important point the IFA delegation through its leader, Dr. Jawahery, underscored was that investment from the private sector is essential for sustainable development and in delivering aid. To this end, it is essential to work in collaboration with governments to enable the effective implementation of sound solutions. Fortunately, nowadays, governments recognize the role of the private sector and the importance of investment to achieve global food security. However there is still more work to be done in building the policy measures and legal frameworks to foster public-private partnerships at local, regional and national levels.

    IFA delegates attended numerous side-events and bilaterals as well as high-level a meeting with FAO Director General, Graziano da Silva. In fact, Dr. Jawahery was one of only three private sector representatives invited to address the Director General.

    Throughout the week, the delegates under the leadership of Director General Charlotte Hebebrand and President Abdulrahman Jawahery promoted the vision that the efficient and responsible production, distribution and use of plant nutrients play a vital role in achieving global nutrition security and sustainable development. They also extensively explained how the industry strives to translate this vision into action by promoting best soil management practices, by encouraging expertise sharing and by facilitating the implementation of sustainable fertilizer use through partnerships with international organizations and NGOs.

    In his momentous Plenary intervention in the session on Protracted Crises, Dr. Jawahery stressed that one must not forget that the private sector is the biggest engine of poverty reduction and economic growth in the developing world and plays a quintessential role in securing food availability for people living in protracted crises. IFA has a longstanding commitment to improving access to inputs and is working to constantly raise awareness of the need for a sustained commitment to improving accessibility to inputs, such as the recent awareness campaign, which was done in collaboration with leading agricultural associations in Africa.

    The CFS has come a long way in the past years and the private sector in general and the fertilizer industry in particular remain optimistic that this forum will continue to deliver practical and actionable solutions to deliver a world free of hunger, malnutrition, poverty and inequality.

  • At the recent 42 session of the UN Committee on World Food Security, the fertilizer industry was well-represented and strongly engaged with the member countries and the staff of the Rome-Based Agencies on topics pertaining to soil health and food and nutrition security. IFA’s Director General Charlotte Hebebrand participated in two side-events; one on soils and the other on nutrition value chains. In both instances she delivered important messages on this two priority topics for the industry.

    Soil degradation affects soils worldwide but it is most visible in Africa. Lack of fertilization management has been detrimental to African soils; it is estimated that 8 million tons of nutrients are lost per year and that 95 million hectares of land (75% of the continent) has been degraded to the point of greatly reduced productivity. Nutrients being removed from soils by crops and not being replaced often traps entire communities in poverty cycles. It is critical for food security and increasing smallholder productivity that these nutrients are replaced.

    The fertilizer industry’s approach to integrated soil management is based on integrated nutrient management where farmers (large and small) use available organic nutrients – manures, crop waste, supplemented as necessary by mineral fertilizers. Another important tool for integrated soil fertility management is soil testing. Soil testing is important so farmers can learn exactly how much of each nutrient is required to ensure balanced fertilization using locally available organic nutrients and mineral fertilizers.

    The fertilizer industry promotes nutrient stewardship programs such as the 4Rs which provide a framework to achieve cropping system goals, such as increased production, increased farmer profitability, enhanced environmental protection and improved sustainability. To achieve those goals, the 4R concept incorporates the: right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place.

    Another hot topic for the fertilizer industry at CFS was micronutrient fertilization. More than one-tenth of the total disease burden health problems from which the global population suffers can be traced back to micronutrient deficiencies. These micronutrients can be provided in several cases by agriculture and through fertilizers; by making the food we eat more nutritious.

    Recent research demonstrated that macro-and micronutrient deficient soils reduce not only yields, but also the bioavailability of minerals that are essential to humans who consume the crops cultivated on these deficient soils. Supplementing fertilizers with micronutrients addresses the deficiencies in the soils, in plants and in humans. As such, they contribute to increasing the quantity of food by raising yields but also the nutritional quality of the food. The added micronutrients have immediate and profound impacts. Chronic deficiencies affecting mostly women and children in the local population are quickly eliminated as a result and contribute to eradicating many micronutrient-related illnesses.

    One telling example comes from Turkey. After scientific research revealed that soils in Turkey were severely deficient in zinc and wheat yields very low as a consequence, fertilizer companies began to produce zinc-enhanced fertilizers. This resulted in higher yields but also a new generation growing up free of deficiencies. Nowadays over 300 000 tons of zinc enriched fertilizer is applied in Turkey and the economic benefits are at approximately $100 million as estimated by the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture.

    The fertilizer industry is hopeful that after zinc, iodine will be our industry’s next human health success story. Iodine deficiency remains a major public health concern with 2 billion people being iodine deficient. Studies have been conducted on lettuce and tomato and both proved to be excellent candidates for iodine biofortification.

    Lastly, IFA advocated that in both the instances of soil health and malnutrition, transformative partnerships that involve all stakeholders are required to operationalize, disseminate and scale up existing successful initiatives.

  • How to encourage countries to utilize and prioritize synergies between productivity, food security and climate change?

    Charlotte Hebebrand, Director General of IFA, participated this week in the Joint OECD-France Conference on “Agriculture and Agricultural Soils Facing Climate Change and Food Security Challenges: Public Policies and Practices,” an extremely timely conference focusing on the importance of soil health for food security and climate change mitigation in the run up to COP21. The conference emphasized the importance of more seriously including agriculture in the climate change negotiations, given in particular the important role of carbon sequestration in soils, and featured the French government’s “4 per 1000” initiative on soils for food security and climate .

    Charlotte’s intervention highlighted the important role fertilizers play in meeting the continuously growing agricultural and nutritional demands worldwide. She emphasized to an international audience of policymakers and scientific advisors that the world would only produce half of the agricultural output if mineral fertilizers did not exist and that agricultural yields have tripled over the last 50 years with the help of inputs such as fertilizers. Charlotte made it clear that organic and mineral fertilizers are complementary to each other: when there are not enough organic sources of plant nutrients available, it is imperative to supplement with mineral fertilizers – not only to achieve the yield goal, but also to replace nutrients in the soil.

    Another well-timed key message Charlotte took care to bring across was that although both fertilizer production and application contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions, when taking a life cycle approach, it is clear that agricultural productivity increases due to fertilizers play a crucial role in global forest preservation, and that fertilizer thus play an important role in carbon sequestration. She also pointed to the fact that plant nutrients are known to stimulate biomass production, thereby have an important role to play in building up soil organic matter. In response to the question of how public policies can help, Charlotte stressed that the promotion and implementation of best agriculture management practices – including outreach to farmers on crop and site specific fertilization – was of great importance, along with policy incentives and international partnerships to promote soil health with a view to providing food security, building resilient food systems and mitigating climate change.

  • The link between water and food security came to the forefront of global development discussions in August 2012, when ‘Water and Food Security’ was the chosen topic for World Water Week in Stockholm.

    The event helped to encourage discussions on the water, food and energy nexus and highlighted that water security is connected to many of the world’s key issues such as climate change, food security and soil health.

    This year, when the event focused on ‘water for development’, we wanted to highlight five key facts about the role of water in food and nutrition security:
    1. It takes around 3,000 litres to produce the daily food needs for one person [Source]
    2. 3,000 litres is enough to fill 22 large bathtubs with water, which is a shocking amount when considering that this is required for just one day’s worth of food.

      At IFA we believe it is important to highlight these shocking statistics to raise awareness of the water used by each person for food production, that’s why we’ve featured this statistic in our new infographic on Managing Water and Fertilizer for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification, published in partnership with IWMI, IPNI and IPI.

    3. Agriculture uses approximately 70% of all water withdrawn from aquifers, streams and lakes [Source]
    4. It’s not just the amount of water used in agriculture that presents an issue to food and nutrition security, as the quality of water used in food production also impacts the quality of crops.

      There’s a difficult balance between ensuring we optimise the world’s water resources, which includes using wastewater, and ensuring water contains the right nutrients to grow enough nutritious food.

    5. 10% of the world’s permanently irrigated land is estimated to be irrigated with treated, untreated or diluted wastewater [Source]
    6. It’s not just the amount of water used in agriculture that presents an issue to food and nutrition security, as the quality of water used in food production also impacts the quality of crops.

      There’s a difficult balance between ensuring we optimise the world’s water resources, which includes using wastewater, and ensuring water contains the right nutrients to grow enough nutritious food.

    7. Investment in soil fertility can directly improve water management [Source]
    8. In our recent Managing Water and Fertilizer for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification report, we included an interesting case study from watershed management trials in 300 Indian villages that proved that investing in soil fertility also improves water management.

      The trials found that “a substantial increase in crop yields of 70-120% was achieved when both micronutrients and adequate nitrogen and phosphorus were applied to a number of rain-fed crops (maize, sorghum, beans, pigeon pea, and groundnut) in farmers’ fields (Rego et al., 2005). Therefore, investment in soil fertility directly improved water management.

      The rainwater productivity was increased by 70-100% for maize, groundnut, mung bean, castor and sorghum by adding boron, zinc and sulphur.”

    9. 75% of agricultural water use is attributable to rain-fed production systems [Source]
    10. Humid and subhumid zones often present the most opportunity for increasing the efficiency of water use, as rain-fed production systems are still the most common production schemes in these zones.

      As Wade E. Thomason, Abdoulaye Mando, André Bationo, Maria Balota and William Payne note in their abstract on Crop productivity and water and nutrient use efficiency in humid and subhumid areas “There is significant opportunity to improve water use in rain-fed systems as compared to irrigated production; and fertilizer input to increase crop yield is one of the most important factors to achieving better water use efficiency for many crops in humid and subhumid zones”.

    Follow @FertilizerNews for all the latest updates on water security including key quotes, articles and videos.


    Managing Water and Fertilizer for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification
    Managing Water and Fertilizer for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification - Infographic

  • 2015 has already been a busy year for the fertilizer industry. We’ve met with the secretary general of the UN, held our 83rd Annual Conference in Istanbul and welcomed Dr Abdulrahman Jawahery as President.

    In the International Year of Soils we have also seen lots of interesting discussions and events on the vital role soil plays in food and nutritional security, including the launch of our Growing Smart Together website.

    Now we’re halfway through the year we wanted to look back on our highlights:
    1. Launching the Growing Smart Together Website
    2. In April this year, to celebrate the International Year of Soils, we launched the Growing Smart Together website.

      The website features 40 video interviews, giving a voice to scientists, farmers, policy makers, NGOs and business representatives who explain their own experience, views, and knowledge on soils.

      View the website here.

    3. IFA’s 83rd Annual Conference
    4. The 83rd IFA annual conference took place in Istanbul in May, to mark the International Year of Soils Dr Pedro Sanchez, one of the world’s most preeminent soil scientists, was invited as a guest keynote speaker at the conference.

      Dr Sanchez spoke to IFA members about eradicating myths about fertilizers and soil, saying “the claim that fertilizers poison the soil is false, as long as they are applied at agronomically correct rates.

    5. 3. Dr Abdulrahman Jawahery announced as IFA President
    6. At the annual conference Dr Jawahery was elected as President of IFA. Dr Jawahery is an active member of IFA and has held various posts within our Board of Directors; he is also Chairman and President of the Arab Fertilizer Association for 2015.

      Outgoing President Esin Mete commented that “Abdulrahman Jawahery is one of the most experienced executives in the fertilizer industry and his passion for the industry and for sustainability and SHE issues are a great asset to the Association”.

      Find out more about Dr Jawahery here.

    7. IFA Global Safety Summit and Hard Hat Campaign
    8. In March we hosted the IFA Global Safety Summit in Canada, the event gave IFA members an opportunity to share Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) best practices.

      The event also celebrated IFA members who have excelled in health and safety in the past year, with Yara Brunsbuttel winning the IFA 2015 Green Leaf Award for SHE excellence.

      To further highlight the importance of SHE to the fertilizer industry we launched the hardhat campaign, inviting members to submit their hardhat selfies on Instagram. You can check out all the great submissions here.

    9. IFA and AFAP Session on Smallholders’ Access to Fertilizer
    10. In February this year we hosted a session on Smallholders’ Access to Fertilizer in Africa with the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP).

      The session took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and accompanied our 2014 campaign aiming to ensure that smallholder farmers in Africa have access to fertilizers in order to help eradicate hunger and malnutrition in the continent.

      The session included a panel of experts from One Acre Fund, AFAP and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

      During the session panelist Dr. Bashir Jama, an AGRA soil scientist, discussed the need for smallholders to see results to encourage future investments in inputs: “Many smallholder farmers have little financial means to buy inputs, which makes it important that when they use fertilizer they see the rewards e.g. access to markets and guarantees that their investment in fertilizer, seeds, and labour has a return.

    We look forward to ensuring the fertilizer industry has a voice in key events throughout the rest of 2015, including the development of the sustainable development goals and discussions on the International Year of Soils.

  • Science has always played a significant role in the agriculture industry, with new seed varieties developed to boost food security and fertilizers enriching soils with nutrients. However, it is only in recent years that we’re starting to link technological advancements with the industry – from drones to apps here’s how technology is transforming the agriculture industry:

    1. Apps are improving access to information

    2. From accurate local weather forecasts to the latest event information, apps have enabled our industry to access crucial information at the touch of a screen.

      Apps are now even informing fertilizer application and can enable farmers to send images of crops in a poor condition to experts, who can provide accurate tips and fertilizer recommendations within 24 hours.

      At IFA we wanted to offer members an easier way to access all information from our events, so we have now launched our events app.

      The app provides updates on the list of participants, speakers, exhibitors and the event agenda. Members will be able to use the app for the first time at the upcoming IFA annual conference in Istanbul.    

    3. Drones are capturing vital data

    4. Over the last few months we’ve shared lots of interesting articles on social media looking at the role drones will play in agriculture.

      Drones provide farmers with cost-effective satellite images of their fields, giving them a clear picture of all their land and highlighting any critical areas of worry.

      These images are enabling farmers to be more efficient and accurate than ever before.

    5. Mobile phones are linking farmers to markets (and the world!)

    6. Some say that Africa has “skipped the landline stage” and moved straight to mobile.

      This certainly seems to be the case with farmers in the continent, who have quickly moved from having to travel to market to find the local asking price for their produce to receiving market prices in text messages.

      Farmers can now access a world of information, from global food prices to weather forecasts, without having to leave their house or farm.

      Oxfam have even claimed that mobile phones can play a vital role in feeding an estimated 9 billion people by 2050.

    7. Soil sensors are enabling more farmers to save land

    8. Like drones, soil moisture sensors are offering farmers more accurate data than ever before.

      The sensors can be placed in soil to measure water content and can provide vital updates to save soil (and water).

    9. Robots are offering farmers a helping hand

    10. From cattle to crop planting robots are stepping in to help farmers with time consuming tasks. Agriculture robots have also helped to improve accurate soil management, with irrigation systems accurately watering the land and some machines helping with the precise application of fertilizer.
    At IFA we embrace the many ways that technology can enhance our industry, that’s why we’ve launched our brand new app to ensure all our members have the latest event information at their fingertips.

    We look forward to exploring the many ways that technology can improve the lives of farmers around the world and we believe that technology will play an increasingly significant role in our industry.

    One strong theme we’ve taken from all the global events we have attended over the past few years is the need for a holistic approach to food and nutritional security. That’s why we’ve launched our brand new website ‘Growing Smart Together’ to create a platform to capture the views of all agriculture stakeholders.

    This year the platform will focus on the role of soil in agriculture to celebrate the International Year of Soil. We’ve selected some of the top quotes from our interviews with farmers, NGOs, policy makers and the private sector:
    1. “The problem with soils is enormous in Africa. Around 25% of the land in sub-Saharan Africa is severely degraded and when soil is degraded it doesn’t produce good crops” Gordon Conway, Scientist/Academic at Imperial College, Agriculture for Impact and Montpellier Panel Watch the interview in full here.

    2. “ We need to work with farmers to ensure that they’re using nutrients properly; using the right nutrients at the right time, in the right amount and in the right place” Tip O’Neil, President at International Raw Materials Watch the interview in full here.

    3. “Soils are important because they are the base for survival” Tekalign Mamo, State Minister of Agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Watch the interview in full here.

    4. “Soil is the wealth of farmers, it is the wealth of this earth that we live on but we don’t have an infinite amount of soil, we have a finite amount of soil” David Gad, World Farmers Organisation Watch the interview in full here.

    5. “Our whole life depends on the land, the trees and the freedom to move around. That is our economy. The Earth.” Gloria Uchiba, President of the Associacion de Mujeres de Zappara Watch the interview in full here.

    Check out all the video interviews and helpful links here:

  • There’s a rather harrowing fact that “work kills more people than wars”. At IFA we’re more than aware of the dangers and risks of working in the agriculture and fertilizer industry, but we also know that the industry can provide safe and secure jobs for millions of people around the world.

    So how do we achieve global safety in the fertilizer industry?

    1. Collaboration:
    2. It is essential for the fertilizer industry that we unite to share best practice examples and knowledge. Events such as the recent IFA Global Safety Summit provide opportunities for the industry to network and share solutions to common challenges.

    3. Changing cultures:
    4. We want to ensure that health and safety is at the heart of fertilizer production but we’re aware that for some this may require a slight change in working culture. For example, it may seem like a basic requirement to ask workers to wear hardhats but it can require a complete change in routine for somebody to grab their hardhat before heading into work.

    5. Certification program:
    6. To change cultures and behaviours in the workplace, we need powerful incentives and the assurance that change has powerful impacts.  A great example of a campaign that has helped to change working culture is the Protect & Sustain certification program, IFA’s trademark name for its Product Stewardship initiative. By taking measures to ensure that its products are responsibly-developed, sourced, manufactured, stored, transported and applied, the Association and its participating members are demonstrating their commitment to ensuring that fertilizer and their intermediate products are used to the benefit of all and that its inherent risks are at least minimized- and where possible eliminated.. We think the programme works so well because it’s simple and the benefits of sharing this knowledge have been successfully communicated with fertilizer producers, partners in the value chain and public regulation bodies.

    7. CEOs:
    8. At the recent Global Safety Summit IFA president Esin Mete said improving health and safety in the industry: “starts with our approach, our corporate culture; as well as the attitude of CEOs and managers towards safety”. Highlighting that change must be driven by leaders in the industry; these leaders must be brave and admit that incidents happen whilst also developing practical solutions.

    9. Commitment:
    10. Making significant changes within the industry requires dedication from the entire workforce. We think commitment and hard work shouldn’t go unnoticed, that is why we established the IFA Green Leaf Award. This year we rewarded the Yara Brunsbüttel team, who have achieved outstanding safety, health and environment results.
    We have already made dramatic improvements to the health and safety of the fertilizer industry, with IFA members such as the Qatar Fertilizer Company (QAFCO) in 2013 and Yara in 2015 demonstrating excellent safety, health and environment (SHE) controls across the entire supply chain and being awarded the IFA Green Leaf Award for their achievements. The scrutiny on the industry has encouraged us to excel and we hope that we can continue to unite to ensure that health and safety best practices are demonstrated around the world.

    Yara Brunsbüttel wins the IFA Green Leaf Award 2015 : Jacky de Letter and Sven Kohnke receive the trophy and certificate by IFA’s President, Ms Esin Mete, and Jim T. Prokopanko, CEO of The Mosaic Company, USA