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Fertilizer Policies and Implications for
African Agriculture: A Review*
Gashaw T. Abate
International Food Policy Research...
Co-authors
Kibrom Abay David Spielman
Fertilizer use in Africa lag significantly behind other
regions of the world
• In 2017, Africa accounted for only 3.3%
of ...
Fertilizer application rates considerably varies across
countries
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Kilograms(kg)offertilizernutri...
• Access and supply related factors: unavailability of fertilizer at all or fertilizer not supplied at
the right time and ...
• CAADP call for increasing ag productivity by focusing on the provision of improved inputs
• The Abuja Declaration called...
1) State-led fertilizer (marketing) policy
• Place the state at the center of fertilizer procurement, pricing, distributio...
• Poor (inadequate) implementation (e.g., inefficient targeting of subsidies)
• Absence of complementary polices/investmen...
• While most fertilizer polices focus on reducing farmgate fertilizer prices and
increasing application rate, the evidence...
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2020 ReSAKSS Annual Conference - Plenary Session III–Policies for Competitive & Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems

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​Presentation on "Fertilizer policies and Implications for African Agriculture: A Review" by Gashaw T. Abate​, Research Fellow MTID, IFPRI

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2020 ReSAKSS Annual Conference - Plenary Session III–Policies for Competitive & Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems

  1. 1. Fertilizer Policies and Implications for African Agriculture: A Review* Gashaw T. Abate International Food Policy Research Institute *Citations are not included in the PPT to conserve space, please refer the paper for citations.
  2. 2. Co-authors Kibrom Abay David Spielman
  3. 3. Fertilizer use in Africa lag significantly behind other regions of the world • In 2017, Africa accounted for only 3.3% of the global fertilizer use in Agriculture • Intensity of application (23kg/ha) is about eightfold lower than the rates in Asia (185kg/ha) • However, aggerate fertilizer use and application rates have increased in Africa • Fertilizer use: 4.1 (2002)  6.5 (2017) (million, mt) == 3.5% annual growth rate • Application rate: 17.7 (2002)  23.3 (2017) (kg/ha) == 2% annual growth rate 23 95 81 135 185 123 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200 0 50000 100000 150000 200000 250000 Kilograms(kg)offertilizernutrientsper hectare(ha)ofcropland Quantities(in'000metrictons(mt)) Consumption (agricultural use) Application rate (kg/ha)
  4. 4. Fertilizer application rates considerably varies across countries 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Kilograms(kg)offertilizernutrients perhectare(ha)ofcropland Mali Kenya Malawi Zambia Burkina Faso Ghana Senegal Nigeria Tanzania Ethiopia Côte d'Ivoire
  5. 5. • Access and supply related factors: unavailability of fertilizer at all or fertilizer not supplied at the right time and place and in the right formulation • Liquidity and credit constraints: fertilizer purchase require cash on hand (difficult to accumulate), assets that can be liquidated (immiserating), or access to credit (in short supply) • High cost of fertilizer: African farmers pay the highest price for fertilizer anywhere in the world, which make it simply unaffordable/unprofitable (specially in remote areas and production zones with low crop response rate) • Risks/uncertainties and other behavioral factors (i.e., information asymmetry (e.g., on quality); present-biased behavior (discourage saving); aspiration failures; etc.) →Most of these factors are surmountable with the deployment of appropriate public policies and investments Socioeconomic and behavioral factors contribute to the low adoption/application rate of fertilizer in Africa
  6. 6. • CAADP call for increasing ag productivity by focusing on the provision of improved inputs • The Abuja Declaration called member states to promote the use of fertilizer via targeted subsidies • The Malabo Declaration affirmed the need to improve access to quality and affordable modern inputs through the provision of “smart” protection to smallholder agriculture • Regional initiative by Economic Communities: harmonization of fertilizer policy & regional trade • While these declarations are instrumental in providing overarching frameworks for fertilizer promotion, their impacts remain mixed • Inspired some countries to update or reformulate their fertilizer polices • Progress toward meeting most of the resolutions is inadequate Concrete policies/declarations/regulations on fertilizer promotion exist at the continent & regional levels
  7. 7. 1) State-led fertilizer (marketing) policy • Place the state at the center of fertilizer procurement, pricing, distribution • Associated with (near-)universal subsidies on fertilizer price • Some evidence of increased fertilizer use, but came with high fiscal cost, market distortion, rent-seeking behavior 2) Market-led fertilizer policy • Followed from the structural adjustment programs that many African countries signed on to • The market-led policy vary across country both in terms of depth/breadth and level of implementation • As a result, the evidence base is mixed and sometimes controversial →Currently, the most important question is “why such policies are insufficient to achieve ag productivity” than “how to design and implement fertilizer polices” About ⅓ of countries in Africa have a coherent fertilizer policies…can be categorized into two broad typologies
  8. 8. • Poor (inadequate) implementation (e.g., inefficient targeting of subsidies) • Absence of complementary polices/investments • Fertilizer policies alone are not sufficiently effective to increase productivity • Complementary policies related to investment in extension, breeding, road, irrigation, markets, and other rural infrastructure; private sector participation, etc. • Most policies overlooked basic scientific issues relating to soils and agronomy • E.g., Generic and “blanket” fertilizer recommendations are common in Africa, despite considerable spatial variability in soil properties (i.e., contribute to the low return and application rate) Commonly cited shortfalls of existing fertilizer policies in relation to increasing ag productivity
  9. 9. • While most fertilizer polices focus on reducing farmgate fertilizer prices and increasing application rate, the evidence on its effectiveness is mixed • Call for further improvements in the modalities and targeting of these policies (e.g., smart/innovative subsidies) • Low and variable fertilizer application rate in Africa low and variable returns for fertilizer use • Investment in complementary inputs (e.g., improved seeds) & infrastructures (e.g., irrigation, road, market, etc.) could help make fertilizer more profitable and appealing to farmers • “Blanket” fertilizer recommendation in the presence of spatial variability in soil properties likely contributing to the low return and application rate • Call for site-specific recommendation to increase returns and ensure sustainable intensification • Revitalizing extension systems to promote the adoption of integrated soil fertility management practices In summary . . .

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