Small holder farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa may soon have more reason to smile after a meeting between the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) held in Nairobi.
The high-level consultative workshop explored the extent to which 9 countries in the eastern and southern Africa region could jointly procure in bulk their fertilizer needs.
AGRA’s partnership with ADB brings together two of Africa’s premier institutions to work with national governments and the private sector to address the transnational factors that impede fertilizer use to jump-start Africa’s stagnant agricultural productivity.
According to reports, the average use of fertilizers on food crops in sub-Saharan Africa is barely 1 kilogram per hectare and even this tiny amount is projected to decline in the near future due to the rapid increase in global prices.
African farmers use only 5-10 percent of the fertilizer amounts used by their counterparts in other developing regions, such as Asia
“We have seen a three-fold increase in global fertilizer prices over the last year which puts this crucial farm input beyond the reach of most smallholder African farmers thus greatly reducing the region’s ability to feed itself,” said Dr Bashir Jama, head of AGRA’s Soil Health Programme.
ADB, AGRA and other experts from the public and private sectors have recently developed a series of proposals for an Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism (AFFM).
These would serve as a vehicle for financing activities to address the crisis and increase access to affordability of fertilizers in the continent.
According to some distributors, the price of fertilizers in the country has increased over the past year by over 50 percent for each 50-kg bag.
To address this problem, the Government has recently implemented a subsidy programme and price controls aimed at bringing the prices down.
The countries represented by their respective Agriculture Ministers include Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Seychelles.