Amid escalating food crisis, African agriculture is set for fertilizer boom – The North Africa Post
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 346 million Africans are negatively affected by a severe crisis in food. A fertilizer boom is erupting across the continent even though environmental and green farmers call for caution.
Africa has barely used fertilizers, as only 6% of the continent’s cultivated land is irrigated, and the average fertilizer consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated at 17kg of nutrients per hectare of cropland, according to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra). This is a drop in a sea of fertilizers compared to the world’s average fertilizer consumption at 135kg/ha. To that end, at the just-ended African Green Revolution Conference (AGRF) Summit in Kigali, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has recently urged Africa to increase fertilizer use, irrigation and thermal power in order to ensure food security.
Zimbabwe, which has suffered a declining economy and was subject to sanctions for two decades by the West, now offers a rare example of food security programs and policies. For example, with multiplied irrigation and fertilizer use, the country has increased its wheat production from a three-month supply to a 15-month supply, according to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture. But while Africa won’t become self-sufficient in food overnight, fertilizer use and irrigation are touted as key tools to achieve this strategic objective. “If there is anything close to being a silver bullet that guarantees food security in Africa, it is good leadership. We can outsource technology but we cannot outsource good leadership,“ says Enock Chikava, the Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
One of the countries that has acted quickly is Tanzania. The government has launched a three-year program to build irrigation dams in all its regions. It is also building a second fertilizer plant for the 65% of its people who are directly involved in agriculture. President Paul Kagame in Rwanda sees greater diversity in Africa’s agriculture. He claims that Africa has enough resources and biomass to switch to organic farming and to stop being too vulnerable to external shocks. “The food crisis is a serious one and in order to deal with it we need to develop a sense of urgency…to treat food like a business,” he said during the recent AGRF summit. “If you look at the crisis in Ukraine, the whole of Africa suffers because we cannot get wheat or fertilizer. These are all lessons that we should learn, but they have been around for a long time. We need to act quicker.”
Source: north africa post