Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
From the outset the Africa Fertilizer Summit to be held in Abuja, Nigeria from 9-13 June 2006 has been billed as an ‘Action Oriented Summit’. Convened by NEPAD, it will be chaired by President Obasanjo of Nigeria, Chairman of NEPAD’s African Union Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee.
Heads of State from across Africa are expected to attend, along with the heads of the Regional Economic Communities, major African and international development organisations, fertilizer importers and distributors on the continent as well as representatives of the global fertilizer industry and members of the African and international research and scientific community, and African farmers.
With new data released in March 2006 showing that three-quarters of farmland in Africa is plagued by severe degradation, which translates into perpetually lower farm yields and continued cycles of food insecurity and hunger, it is evident that decisive action is needed.
The agenda for the Summit revolves around addressing the key market, structural and financing constraints that currently limit access to fertilizers at national and regional levels. The African decision- makers, stakeholders and global development leaders meeting in Abuja will devise an action plan and specific steps to end Africa’s soil fertility crisis.
The action plan will focus on interventions aimed at rapidly expanding fertilizer use and supply in Africa over the next five years. Many elements of the action plan are already being distilled through the Summit preparatory process. This includes the identification by African countries and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of the bold actions necessary to accelerate the affordable access by millions of African farmers to fertilizers, as well as the ongoing deliberations of the Summit Technical Committee, which is comprised of leading international and African fertilizer experts.
The organisers are confident that the in-depth analysis and discussions around fertilizer interventions and actions taking place ahead of the Summit will allow for sharper action-oriented discussions during the Summit.
The bottlenecks and inefficiencies facing the Africa fertilizer sector are well known and documented ; the Summit is about devising actions not rehashing known problems.
Scaling up existing networks of small input dealers or “agro dealers,” that can provide small-scale farmers with the necessary tools of modern farming. These “agro dealers” would pack and sell fertilizers in smaller packages thus making them affordable to farmers. They would also be located in the rural interior so that farmers would not have to walk more than 5 to 10km to purchase fertilizers and other agricultural inputs, therefore addressing issues of financial and physical access in rural areas. Today many African farmers must often walk miles just to purchase fertilizer or seed, and even when these inputs are available they are often available in 50kg bags which are beyond the means of the typical small-scale farmer in Africa.
Utilising credit-guarantee programs to link “agro dealers” with input supply companies and financial institutions. These facilities would guarantee credit extended by commercial banks and micro-credit institutions to input dealers thereby reducing the risk associated with lending to the input business and expanding the volume of inputs moving into rural areas.
Introducing “Smart subsidies,” that would help the poorest farmers afford fertilizers, while also supporting emerging market systems for agriculture supply. Many farmers are too poor to afford fertilizers in the absence of targeted support ; targeted subsidies would facilitate affordable access by those farmers most in need without destroying the emerging private sector.
Promoting the establishment of Regional Fertilizer Procurement and Distribution Centres to reduce the landed costs of fertilizers and achieve economies of scale. Many African countries import fertilizers in very small quantities. Because they act individually, they are unable to achieve scale economies in import, pricing and distribution. The establishment of regional procurement and distribution centres would coordinate and consolidate fertilizer demand from more than one country in a region, thus enabling importers to take advantage of scale economies and lowering import and distribution costs.
Creating a financing mechanism to fund the development of the fertilizer sector in Africa, particularly the establishment of the Regional Fertilizer Procurement and Distribution Centres, complementary investments in infrastructure (ports, roads, rail) needed to support these centers local manufacturing of fertilizers to allow Africa to take full advantage of its large, but under-exploited, natural fertilizer deposits and to facilitate complementary investments in irrigation and other areas.
The Africa Fertilizer Summit is poised to address the fertilizer crisis that undermines African food production. Resolving Africa’s fertilizer problem is critical in achieving Africa’s overall vision for agriculture as embodied in NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the strategic framework formally adopted by African Heads of State and Government in 2003.
One of the primary goals of the CAADP is to attain a 6% annual agricultural growth rate at the national level by 2015. Addressing the fertilizer crisis is a critical element of this strategy to ensure that these goals are realised and that the cycle of food insecurity and hunger is broken.
The Africa Fertilizer Summit is being hosted by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and implemented by NEPAD and the International Fertilizer Development Centre.
Source : nepad news