African heads urged to trade with each other to increase capacity and utilize the raw materials in the continent

Africa Science News

By Lenah Bosibori


African heads of state have been urged to trade with each other in fertilizer purchasing to help increase productivity and utilize the raw materials in the continent instead of purchasing from other parts of the world.

Speaking during the second African Fertilizer and Soil Health summit in Nairobi,  Hakainde Hichilema the president of the republic of Zambia said that there is no point in working together to increase capacity but a number of us are placing orders to purchase fertilizer from other parts of the world.

“We need to invest in our continent to increase capacity by using our raw materials, we the heads of states should include in our minimum requirements buying from each other instead of depending on others to supply us with fertilizer from outside the continent, in Zambia we have already practiced that in fertilizer and other aspects,” said Hichilema.

He notes that the continent has raw materials which must be exploited effectively but there is a need to invest in order to exploit the resources.

“Let us invest in the best appropriate technology and correct fair capital which remains valid in these conversations,” added President Hichilema.

Hichilema also insisted that fertilizer should also be affordable and available. “There is no point making fertilizer available if it is not affordable to our farmers because we will not achieve the intended objective to increase productivity as well as securing food for the vulnerable families,” said President Hichilema.

On his part William Ruto, the president of the Republic of Kenya noted that Africa remains heavily reliant on food imports despite the continent’s vast potential for agricultural production.

He attributed it to several factors including inadequate fertilizer application, extreme climate adversities and extensive land degradation.

“Across Africa, people face numerous challenges that hinder their efforts and investments in enhancing agriculture productivity, these include inadequate fertilizer application, extreme climate adversities like floods and intense drought and extensive land degradation all pointing to the broader issue of poor soil health,” said president Ruto.

In his opening remarks, Moussa Faki Mahamat Chairperson Of the African Union Commission noted that Africa is experiencing accelerated soil degradation, including through desertification and floods as seen in East Africa and here in Kenya, often alternatively -either droughts or floods which in turn reduces the production and productivity in the African agricultural sector.

He noted the commitments of the AU Commission to address the issues of soil health in all african countries. “The African Union Commission is committed to address the issues of soil health in all African countries. This determination is what led us to develop the Soil Initiative for Africa (SIA) and the Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Action Plan. While the Soil Initiative for Africa is a long-term framework aligned with our Agenda 2063, the Action Plan is the 10-year implementation plan,” he said.

In terms of fertilizer use, Mahamat noted that Africa is below the global average and the target set by African Heads of State and Government in 2006 where they endorsed the Abuja declaration on Fertilizers for a Green Revolution in Africa, with a target of 50 kilograms per hectare per year.

“Eighteen years later, the average fertilizer use rate stands at about 18 kilograms, less than half of the target set in 2006. We have a responsibility to learn and apply the lessons on why this gap remains,” said Mahamat.

He reiterates that some African countries produce fertilizers but we depend mostly on imported fertilizers, making them very expensive for our farmers. Yet the African Center for Fertilizer Development based in Zimbabwe has been in existence since the 1980s.

“We must optimize the use of such existing Continental assets to boost local fertilizer production and deliver quality fertilizers to African farmers at affordable prices,” he said.

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