Africa exports $5.3b worth of fertilizer, imports only $2.95b in 2010

Fertilizer2Africa is an agriculture continent, and must therefore use more fertilizer, but the continent’s farmers use far less fertilizer than other parts of the world, leading to high exports and lower imports.

In the year 2010, Africa exported fertilizer to the tune of $5.3 billion but imported only $2.95 billion, according to Dr. Francis Mbroh, of the Afrexim Bank.

Speaking at the 2013 Argus FMB Africa Fertilizer Conference and Exhibition held in Dakar, Senegal March 13 to 15, 2013, Dr. Mbroh who is the Director, Research, Planning and International Cooperation of the Bank attributed the low production levels of agriculture in Africa to “low use of fertilizer.”

He also noted that there are distribution and logistics challenges on the continent, which have been major factors in hampering the distribution of fertilizer to farmers on the continent.

In his presentation, Alassane Diallo, the CEO of Industries Chimiques du Senegal (ICS) indicated that only 18 percent of arable land in Africa is cultivated, and argued that proper training and the provision of affordable sustainable inputs are necessary for the success of farmers on the continent.

According to Mr. Diallo, fertilizer plays an important role in agriculture and he called for the mobilization of banks and the insurance companies to support Africa’s farmers.

A representative of the African Development Bank in his presentation, noted that there is a high demand for fertilizer in Africa, indicating that farmers should use about 20kg per hectare to conserve the soil.

He expressed concern about the fact that African countries altogether use about 5 to 10 percent of the amounts of fertilizer used in other parts of the such as Asia.

The World Bank has argued that “given the generally levels of fertilizer use in Africa, there can be little doubt that fertilizer use must increase in Africa if the region is to meet its agricultural growth targets, poverty reduction goals , and environmental sustainability objectives. For this reason, policies and programmes are needed to encourage fertilizer use in ways that are technically efficient, economically rational, and market-friendly.”

Present at the conference were policy makers, producers and distributors of fertilizer, financial institutions and civil society groups.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, back from Dakar, Senegal

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