Feeding Africa’s soils: Fertilizer subsidies

Fertilizer promotion programs in Africa have undergone significant evolution since their inception in the 1970s. Initially characterized by direct government expenditures and interventions to stimulate fertilizer demand and usage, these programs faced challenges of sustainability and effectiveness. Structural adjustment programs in the 1990s led to the discontinuation of many of these programs, only to witness a resurgence following the 2006 Abuja Declaration on Fertilizers. This resurgence saw the implementation of targeted subsidy programs across several African countries, aimed at increasing agricultural productivity. The phases of evolution encompassed top-down government management, liberalization, private sector expansion, and recent shifts towards market-based systems. Today, most sub-Saharan African countries have some form of subsidy program in place, albeit with varying degrees of government involvement and private sector participation. As governments transition towards regulatory roles, the focus is on improving subsidy program design, implementation, and performance. Smart subsidy programs, private sector involvement, investment in supporting infrastructure, and complementary measures are highlighted as key strategies for enhancing the effectiveness and sustainability of fertilizer subsidy programs in Africa.
Agricultural productivity, Subsidies