Socio-economic Determinants and Trends on Fertilizer Use in West Africa

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A large number of people in Africa continue to grapple with food and nutrition insecurity largely due to insufficient food availability, inadequate incomes coupled with high rates of unemployment, risk and vulnerability as well as inadequate access to basic services. The situation has been exacerbated by emerging global socio-economic trends, population increase, land degradation, climate change and an undeveloped agricultural sector among many other causes (Bationo and Egulu, Status of implementation of Abuja declaration, 2013). It is estimated that Africa’s 226.4 million people are chronically hungry (FAO 2012). Food security has been threatened in African countries since the past decades due to the decrease in soil fertility, poor use of improved technology and low investment in agriculture. These had impacted negatively on crop yields, overall agricultural production and development of African countries. The situation has been a concern to African leaders who converged to the Africa Fertilizer Summit of Abuja in 2006 to discuss and prescribe some solutions to remedy the issues. At this meeting, it was noted that Africa has the lowest rate of fertilizer application. The continent has a fertilizer application rate of about 8 kilograms per hectare, which is far below the global average of 50 kilograms per hectare. A 12-point resolution was therefore developed at the end of the summit that was aimed at achieving the global average of fertilizer use by 2015. The resolution, which was known as the Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for an African Green Revolution spells out measures and actions that must be taken to accelerate the accessibility, availability and affordability of fertilizers in the region. On the production side, the average annual increase of cereal yield in Africa is about 10 kg ha−1, corresponding to extensive agriculture neglecting external inputs like improved seeds and plant nutrients (Bationo et al. 2004). Due to a high population growth rate (3%) compared to cereal grain yield (<1%) (Gruhn et al. 2000), cereal production per capita has decreased from 150 kg/person to 130 kg/person over the last 35 years, whereas Asia and Latin America realized per capita food increase from 200 kg/person to 250 kg/ person during the same period. Although some effort are underway to improve agricultural productivity in West Africa through the increased use of improved inputs including fertilizers, it is important to notice that food insecurity is still threatening many African countries. Some scientists support that the increase in yields of the food crops has been largely due to land expansion rather than crop productivity improvement potential. There is ample evidence that increased use of inorganic fertilizers has been responsible for an important share of world-wide agricultural productivity growth. Efficient fertilizer use can stimulate production growth, improve food and nutrition security and reduce poverty through income growth for farmers and lower food costs for consumers. Nevertheless production increase in Africa is mainly attributed to area increase than productivity increase (Table 14.1). Fertilizer was as important as seed in the Green Revolution contributing as much as 50% of the yield growth in Asia (Wigg and Hopper 1993). Several studies have found that one third of the cereal production worldwide is due to the use of fertilizer and related factors of production (Bumb 1995, citing FAO and Van Keulen and Breman 1990). A diagnosis analysis of fertilizer demand in West Africa showed some level of improvement since the Abuja Summit and more specifically after the food crisis of 2008. For instance, fertilizer consumption in the 15 ECOWAS countries was 1,020,000 tons with an average rate of 9 kg/ha in 2006, while it was estimated in the 8 WAEMU countries plus Chad at 1,025,000 tons with an average rate of 15 kg/ha in 2012 (Mando 2013). On 30 June–1 July 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization in collaboration with the African Union Commission, and the Institute Lula convened a high level meeting in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. The meeting put together African and International Leaders to deliberate and endorse a radical approach to end hunger in Africa by 2025 building on renewed partnerships within the CAADP Framework. The present paper is an attempt to analyze the socio economic determinants of fertilizer use in West Africa since the declaration of Abuja. It will also point out progress made and their impact on agricultural outputs and people livelihood in West Africa. It will be based on recent studies conducted on fertilizer and agricultural outputs in Africa. Some indicators like fertilizer use rate and consumption, economic return of fertilizer use, effect of fertilizer use on natural resources and livelihood, and new trends in fertilizer use will be developed to show progress achieved since the Abuja Summit.
Klutse, A.R., A. Bationo, and A. Mando. 2018. “Socio-Economic Determinants and Trends on Fertilizer Use in West Africa,” IN Improving the Profitability, Sustainability and Efficiency of Nutrients Through Site Specific Fertilizer Recommendations in West Africa Agro-Ecosystems, Volume 1, A. Bationo, D. Ngaradoum, S. Youl, F. Lompo, and J.O. Fening (Eds.).