A CRU Conference in collaboration with AFAP themed the West Africa Fertilizer Agribusiness 2017 was attended by a cross section of the fertilizer industry players, government officials, civil society, farmers and investors.
The conference opened with the first session on Understanding West African soils and their nutrient needs. Discussions concluded on the notion that, farmers must have access to soil testing facilities which must be mobile (mobile labs), have a map of the soil nutrients of the entire country to be able to understand soil variability and where soil nutrients are less and more. Government must ensure it has a soil fertility map. It is very important that countries have good research in soils to help investors.
How can farmers have access to soil scientist which are very limited to help them catch up and understand their soils and properly apply fertilizers? Government should provide scholarships for people to read soil science to encourage lots of people to study soil science. Government need to invest a lot in agriculture.
What is the government doing in sensitizing farmers on soil liming?
Soil acidity mapping must be done to better understand the soils and liming must be applied with caution. It must be done based on requirement.
Session two focused on West African cash crops development coffee production in Africa. In the presentations, it was noted that, agriculture contributes to overs 28% of Africa’s GDP. Coffee is the second largest commodity exchanged in the world after oil. It originated from Ethiopia. There are more than 100 species but only 2 have commercial values. These are Arabia and Robusta. 53% of rural population in the coffee zone cultivates coffee. Despite the performance of the agriculture sector, coffee is still on the decline. Coffee production can be divided into 2 periods; The quota periods which is from 1965-1988 where government involved in production and trade, offered better research program and the total liberalization (Market Liberalization) which is from 1989 to date where government were not involved in the production and trade, poor research program.
CONSTRAINTS IN THE COFFEE SECTOR
Despite its contributions to GDP, it faces lots of challenges along its value chain. Among these are;
Low productivity, limited access to technology in that there is insufficient transfer to technology to farmers, no adoption of improved technologies, price variations due to the liberalization of the sector, removal of price stabilization, research insufficiently resourced, no access to affordable finance and lack of reliable data on the sector.
Growth of world consumption, more use of Robusta coffee because of raw markets in China, India, coffee as a strategic crop for Africa, Special fund for African Coffee, Action plan for major coffee production countries e.g. Ghana, Cameroon to cote d’ivore, IACO as a specialized agency of UA for coffee. Given that government cannot intervene any longer or very little, in the production and marketing of the product, it is essential for Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to be formed and consolidated to solve the many problems facing the sector to revive sustainable production.
CONSTRAINTS AND PROSPECTS OF AGRIBUSINESS VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA
Agribusiness value chain is business oriented approach to agricultural activities which aim at capturing best values at all stages of production, processing and trading from farmers through traders. Value added is largest in downstream activities of processing, logistics etc. The structure of agribusiness value chain in Africa is dualistic. The existence of an informal serving lower income consumer in domestic markets.
CONSTRAINTS IN AGRIBUSINESS VALUE CHAIN IN AFRICA
These include a weak investment climate for agribusiness, investing in downstream processing, problematic, erratic policies in agricultural output/input markets, weak infrastructural and high transportation costs, difficulties for investors to access secured and tradable land rights, difficulties for small holder farmers/firms to access technologies
PROSPECTS OF AGRIBUSINESS VALUE CHAIN IN AFRICA
The renewed interest in development of agricultural sector, particularly agribusiness for employment generation and industrial development and also provide incentives, Potential to help improve people’s lives and given them opportunities to escape poverty. Prospects for companies to develop business models which protect the environment and natural resources to ensure production for present and future generations, ensuring benefits for farmers and communities.
According to the World Bank agriculture and agribusiness could command USD 1 Trillion.
MITIGATE CONSTRAINTS AND IMPROVE PROSPECTS OF AGRIBUSINESS VALUE CHAIN IN AFRICA
Increasing investments to fill key gaps in infrastructure, skills and technology were visible through Public Private Partnerships (PPP), Putting in place legal and regulatory reforms to private investments including contract laws, Providing complementary institutional development for competitiveness especially capacity building for finance, risk management and standards, Value chain incentives should be developed and lead by the private sector but involve different agents from different stages of the value chain. Training of farmers into post-harvest handling and Soil health management solutions- new improved ways of handling soils.
This was followed by the third work shop which focused on youth and women in agribusiness.
This looked at engaging agri-entrepreneurs and youth enrolment in agri-incubators, capacity development trough affirmative policy development, inclusive procurement policies and promoting greater participation and capacity development around the engagement of African women and youth in the agriculture/agribusiness value chain.
Philip Boakye of Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) gave the first presentation on what the Network is, what it does and its activities, challenges and prospects. Mr. Anis Haffar, founder of the GATE Institute gave a lecture on preparing youth for agriculture. He spoke of the need for policy makers to see that our education has to be developed in line with what we add value to. He also spoke of the need to identify success stories from youth involved in agriculture for people most especially the youth to see the benefits from the agricultural value chains. Day 1 of the conference closed with a networking session.
Day 2 opened with a keynote session on Reaching West Africa’s Agribusiness Potential and with a workshop session moderated by Dr. Namanga Ngogi. It had the Chairman of COCOBOD Ghana, Hon. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang give and address and in his address, he stated that the cocoa sub-sector in Ghana contributes to 20-25% of exports and that the cocoa market recorded a fall in prices of about 40%. He also mentioned that Ghana’s cocoa landscape has a degradation rate of about 2% per annum and that the Ghana hopes to produce 1.5 million metric tons. Then came the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Hon. William Agyapong Quaitto who added that rice imports in Ghana is 51% of total consumption and that government is doing well to improve environment and policies to improve partnerships. He alluded to the Work Bank’s statement that Agribusiness is estimated a USD 1.3 trillion in the next 13 years as an alternative for galamsey.
This followed a workshop focused on fertilizers role in West Africa Agribusiness development, a session moderated by Jennifer Willis. Presentations were made by Notore Chemical followed by Yara Ghana Ltd on the importance of fertilizer as a catalyst for West African Agribusiness. He noted in his presentation that, agribusiness comprises the collective business activities performed from farm to table. The fertilizer application in the world is 138kg/ha of arable land and also a presentation from the West Africa Fertilizer Association.
The cocoa focus forum elaborated the fact that West African countries collectively supply two thirds of the world’s cocoa crop. It also explored practical advice on how the fertilizer industry players can support the development of this key industry for the region. Madam Fatima Ali, President and Board Chair of Kuapa Kokoo Farmer’s union Ghana touched on how the union worked with its over 150,000 farmers and its relations with key industry players and the government.
The Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) Ghana was declared duly launched by the Country Coordinator Kassim Gawusu-Toure. There was also a highlight presentation by Dr. Harold Roy-Macauley on realizing West Africa’s rice promise and then the discussion on how ICT solutions can be applied to both the fertilizer supply chain and West African Agribusiness development.
The third day begun with key note sessions on investments then presentations on Nigeria Fertilizer production focus. It was realized that Nigeria is now becoming established as a global hub for ammonia and urea production. This explored the strategies being pursued by the main players in that market, the West Africa fertilizer market, potential and challenges with presentations from Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals and Dangote Group. The seventh session which was focused on plugging the finance gap centering on mechanisms for trade and projects, discussed financing tools to enable fertilizer trade and investments in the agribusiness value chain, the need for affordable finance for farmers and agribusiness SMEs using innovative products including insurance, guarantees, shared risk facilities, microfinance and lease financing and finally using technology to expand access through mobile banking development. The prospects of phosphate of Sub-Sharan African Phosphate rock was highlighted and then the next session on blending, bagging and distribution in West Africa. Attention was drawn to the fact that, improving competition among importers of fertilizers and developing networks of warehouses, blenders, baggers and distributors will play a critical role in the fertilizer supply value chain and where investment should take place and how this part of agribusiness sector can be further developed.
The conference closed with a final session which focused on developing the agro-industry and reducing post-harvest losses.