EXPERTS from global agriculture bodies have said the newly launched African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) stands to promote agricultural productivity in Africa through the use of sufficient fertilizers to help heal its nutrient depleted soils.
AFAP is an independent nonprofit entity founded by a partnership of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD),African Development Bank (AfDB), International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC), Agricultural Market Development Trust (AGMARK) and the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
It is aimed at establishing more competitive, sustainable and responsible fertilizer markets to promote African small scale farmers through effective agribusinesses. The call from experts comes after a study commissioned by the department of Soil Health for the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) revealed that the Green Revolution tripled staple crop production in Asia and Latin America and has since by passed Sub- Saharan Africa whose per capita food production has decreased over the past 30 years.
They have since called on the need for increased use of both organic and inorganic fertilizers to help revive the continent's agricultural renaissance aimed at arresting food shortages. The 2008/09 study attributed the drop to poor farming practices which include the reported decimal use of fertilizers in the region, in comparison to global consumption of the input, as one of the main factors threatening food security.
AGRA's director for Soil Health Dr Bashir Jama, explained that fertilizer use in the Sub-Saharan Africa is far much below than the 50 kilogrammes per hectare as set by the Abuja Declaration in 2006.
"The region uses only ten per cent of the ingredient's world consumption and that greatly contributes to the perennial food shortages. For example, in Tanzania; fertilizer use averages nine kilogrammes per hectare. This usually emanates from the exorbitant prices which hinder small scale farmers from accessing fertilizer." Dr Jama said.
The report bills South Asia as the world's largest consumer of fertilizers at 134 kilogrammes per hectare against the world's average of 108 kilogrammes. In contrast, the study pities Africa at 20 kilogrammes per hectare, with its Sub-Saharan region accounts for only eight per cent per hectare.
Professor Mkandawire said AFAP also stands to unite the expertise and dedication of the public and private sectors to increase fertilizer affordability and accessibility for African smallholder farmers in a bid to boost agricultural productivity.
"The innovation provides a mechanism for involving private agribusiness in development agendas. These agendas are aimed at reducing poverty and hunger by growing Africa's agricultural sector. In particular, AFAP is working to introduce new fertilizers to new markets. We also plan to provide assistance extension to suppliers already in business". he said.
The work on AFAP rests on principles established by African leaders in the Comprehensive Africa A griculture Development Programme (CAADP), said Mkandawire, who before taking the job at AFAP, was part of the leadership that established the CAADP agenda.