Call for Harmonized Regional Policy to Facilitate Fertilizer Agribusinesses

Sub-Saharan Africa, including the COMESA region has continued to record low usage of agriculture inputs such as fertilizer compared to the rest of the world. According to a statement issued at the opening of the Regional Public Private Dialogue on the Future of Fertilizer and Agro-Inputs in Africa held in Lusaka on 7 December 2022, Africa currently uses 22.5kg of fertilizer per hectare while Europe is at 157kg per hectares of land.

COMESA Senior Fisheries and Livestock Officer Dr Yoseph Mamo attributed the low usage to high costs of inputs, low supply and a lack of infrastructure to produce the commodity.

“Despite this low usage, there is a positive turn from 2020, as demand for nitrogen fertilizer has increased the fastest in Africa compared with other regions. This shows that there is a huge gap to be used as an opportunity to create jobs and businesses,” he said.

The Dialogue was organized by the African Fertilizer Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) in collaboration with COMESA’s specialized agency, the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA). It is intended to help all parties to understand the major policy regulatory and business environment constraints affecting private sector operations and government priorities for the sector. Both players will agree on joint actions to grow and on a roadmap for the way forward with clear roles and responsibilities for each party.

Dr Mamo emphasized the need for a harmonized regional policy that will help facilitate fertilizer agribusinesses, having a joint procurement system for agro inputs for Member States and development of a viable regional industry through joint industrial parks.

AFAP Chief Executive Officer Mr Micheal Sudarkasa said AFAP has organized the Public Private Dialogues (PPDs) as consultations between governments and the private sector to identify and resolve policy and regulatory constraints to the commercial supply of fertilizer within the region.

The dialogue is therefore part of AFAP’s response to multiple adverse events including COVID-19 that have impacted global supply chains giving rise to fertilizer shortages, escalated fuel prices and inflationary food prices.

“The PPDs will meaningfully contribute to the crafting of an Action Plan during the upcoming African Union’s June 2023 African Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit,” said Mr Sudarkasa.

Other speakers at the dialogue included ACTESA Chief Executive Officer Dr John Mukuka and Director at the Africa Secretariat Alliance for African Partnerships (AAP) Prof. Richard Mkandawire among others.

The Lusaka conference kicks off the Sub-Saharan Africa leg of the PPDs series. Similar conferences will follow in Accra, Ghana for Western Africa, Kampala-Uganda for Eastern Africa and Cairo- Egypt for Northern Africa in 2023.