Use fertilisers effectively to improve food production in Africa - OCP Africa Chairman

BY: Doreen Hammond

The Chairman of OCP Africa, Mr Karim Lotfi Senhaji, has envisioned a bright future for Africa if the continent will adopt a holistic ecosystem approach that will among others use fertilisers effectively to improve its food production capacity.

He said such an approach should also consider the judicious use of available water resources and energy, Research and Development and empowering the youth through training and provision of tools.

He said agriculture was the key to Africa’s development and that in furtherance of this approach, OCP was using a number of initiatives which put small holder farmers at the centre, using a value chain approach.

Mr Lotfi Senhaji was giving his keynote presentation on “Fulfilling Africa’s agricultural potential through Market Development and Better Fertiliser use” at the three-day 10th Annual Argus Africa Fertiliser conference which has ended in Marrakesh, Morocco.

OCP was the host sponsor for the conference which brought together participants including key stakeholders from 52 countries to network, share ideas on how to improve crop yields and create business growth for everyone in the supply chain.

The OCP chairman said, the company’s approach included the boosting of yields with improved seed and adapted fertilisers, training on good agriculture practices and soil needs, financing credit for purchasing inputs and investing in equipment and optimising crop milling and storage to add value and reduce post harvest losses.

Mr Lotfi Senhaji painted a gloomy picture of Africa in 2030 where there would be a decrease in arable lands, an increase in food imports to 100 billion dollars and 90 per cent of the population would be living in extreme poverty In addition, more than 200 million will be living in water scarcity and 3.5 million people a year would be migrating from Africa in search of greener pastures.

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He said a focus on agriculture with the youth in mind would reduce the many death in the Mediterranean Sea as they leave to seek a better life.

He said the gloomy picture for Africa in the future could be reversed if the proper approach he described was sustained adding that OCP would promote digital innovation and agriculture which is a new market for the youth.

In her address, Madam Josefa Sacko, commissioner, Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union said there was the need to address the severe depletion of soils in Africa with fertilisers.

She said Africa only accounted for three per cent of the world’s fertiliser with 70 per cent of this concentrated in North and southern part of the continent.

She called for actions that would make fertilisers easily accessible and affordable to farmers saying that high transport costs had contributed to the high prices.