A farmer applying fertiliser on plants. Photo Credit: IFDC

Filling the fertiliser data gap

[rt_dropcap_style dropcap_letter=”T” dropcap_content=”IMELY fertiliser data plays a major role in increasing agricultural productivity for farmers. Unfortunately, access to quality fertiliser data has been a major challenge for many industry actors, including regional economic communities, national governments, public and private sector actors, and farmers across sub-Saharan Africa”]

Thus, diverse efforts are being made to increase access to and use of quality fertiliser data to drive policy and business decisions to increase agricultural productivity and improve the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people across the region. Following the Africa Fertilizer Summit held in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2006, partners of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), including the International Fertilizer Association (IFA), came together to support the AfricaFertilizer initiative (formerly AfricaFertilizer.org).

The main mandate of AfricaFertilizer is to provide timely and accurate information on fertiliser trade, policies, prices, etc., all in an effort to stimulate growth in the markets. Since its inception, AfricaFertilizer has led the effort to collect, process, validate, and widely disseminate the much-needed fertiliser data to facilitate well-calibrated decisions by policymakers and businesses, which ultimately leads to better access to fertiliser for agricultural productivity.

AfricaFertilizer’s Fertilizer Technical Working Group (FTWG) sessions serve as a strategic platform to accomplish the initiative’s core mandate. Currently, these workshops allow experts to gather information on 18 selected African countries — Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo in West Africa and Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia in East and Southern Africa.

In these workshops, key fertiliser stakeholders from the public sector (ministries of agriculture, customs, research institutions, CountrySTAT), the private sector (fertiliser blenders, producers, suppliers, importers, and exporters), technical partners, donors, and civil society organisations actively participate in reviewing and validating the country’s fertiliser data.

“At these workshops, we take the data validation exercise very seriously, and any data that is not agreed upon by the stakeholders, we go a step further and work with them on a one-on-one basis to make sure that whatever is put out there is accurate,” says Sebastian Nduva, AfricaFertilizer Programme Lead.

Many industry actors find value in AfricaFertilizer’s data validation work, as the output calibrates their respective private sector activities. “WAFA works with IFDC and other partners across each of the countries in West Africa to look at the data on production, export, consumption, and other things related to fertilizer to assess the progress we are making to get greater output for agriculture,” said Dr Innocent Okuku, Executive Secretary of the West African Fertilizer Association (WAFA). According to Moses Negedu, Data Analyst for FEPSAN, the workshop has had a positive impact.

“Now we know our apparent consumption of fertilizer locally, and we see all the gaps in the sector, and we now know how to tackle them,” he said. AfricaFertilizer’s mandate goes beyond providing quality fertiliser data to include incentivising the fertiliser industry to make quality investments in strengthening and expanding the industry to increase agricultural productivity.

At this time of fertiliser crisis, AfricaFertilizer’s data fills in the information gap to help a range of stakeholders make informed decisions, including investing in profitable areas to positively impact agricultural productivity. The 2023 Nigeria FTWG Meeting, for example, featured some interesting highlights.

The volume of fertilizer raw materials imported in 2022 included 187,297 metric tons (mt)of granular ammonium sulfate, 177,776 mt of diammonium phosphate (DAP), and 111,313 mt of muriate of potash (MOP). These are the major raw materials used in blending NPK. The total quantity of NPK fertilizer blended in 2022, as tracked by FEPSAN, was 553,639.16 mt. Urea production rose from 2,701,279 mt in 2021 to 3,458,740 mt in 2022, a 28% increase.

Importation of fertilizers decreased due to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. Nigeria could not import the large quantities of MOP required from Russia and only brought in 35,400.65 mt. It later sourced the balance of 75,075.55 mt from Canada. About 301,353 mt of stock was carried over into 2023. It was not utilized in 2022 due to late importation of raw materials used for blending by NSIA.

Fertilizer exports rose significantly due to an increase in international fertilizer prices in 2022, making the higher net margins attractive for manufacturers. Exports climbed from 1,348,924 mt in 2021 to 2,540,523 mt in 2022, an 88% increase. Customs data showed about 18,400 mt of land exports of urea, NPK, and MOP to neighboring countries. The legal framework should allow the free distribution and movement of fertilizer to neighboring countries through land borders.

Figures on limestone (filler) need to be included in the validation process going forward, as limestone companies are growing in number. It is an important part of NPK blends and accounts for 26% of the production. FEPSAN has the capacity to track filler usage among blenders.

HortiNigeria creates market potential for the fertilizer industry in the horticulture sector through investment in crop-specific fertilizers, establishment of soil analytical services, establishment of capacity building services for potential fertilizer experts within both public and private sectors, an increase in financing in the supply chain, and more investment in organic fertilizer.

Following the fertilizer law in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has started registering blenders and has trained over 100 state officials/ inspectors, three from each state. An amendment of this law will also include agrochemicals. More fertilizers need to be imported into the country to correct the high in-country prices currently experienced at retail points to enable farmers to purchase these products at affordable prices.

With the vital role played by these national-level FTWG sessions, securing additional resources will help expand data collection, validation, and dissemination to enable data-driven decisions for African food systems. This article was originally published on the International Fertilizer Develop

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed