Quality Assessment of Fertilizers Traded in Mali

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In 2006, prior to the Africa Fertilizer Summit and in collaboration with the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), ECOWAS adopted a fertilizer strategy1 with the general objective of promoting their increased and efficient use with a view to sustainably improving agricultural productivity. This regional strategy hinges on four pillars or specific objectives: 1. Improving efficiency and environmental safety of fertilizers. 2. Improving the institutional, regulatory and business environment of the regional fertilizer market. 3. Stimulate effective demand. 4. Stimulate supply. Through the second specific objective, which is to improve the regulatory, institutional and business environment of the regional market of fertilizers, ECOWAS is focusing on creating favorable conditions for the development of the fertilizer sector. Indeed, West African national fertilizer markets are underdeveloped and too narrow to generate a sufficient dynamism and competitiveness. The extension of national markets to the ECOWAS region through the harmonization of national regulatory frameworks is likely to further stimulate private investment in this sector. The effective implementation of a regional framework that harmonizes national regulatory frameworks governing the production and trade of fertilizers and instituting and organizing quality control will protect farmers and render fertilizer trade more attractive to private investment by expanding national markets beyond national borders and by stimulating fair competition with quality products. An ECOWAS legal framework for fertilizer trade and quality control in West Africa was adopted by all state members of the economic community in December 2012. The liberalization of the importation and distribution of fertilizers in most West African countries without appropriate control has led to the emergence of quality problems in products traded in the region. These problems could impede efforts to boost agricultural productivity and to restore or maintain soil fertility, for this reason systematic quality assessments following the requirements in the recently adopted ECOWAS regulatory system at country and regional levels are a priority. There are very few systematic studies on the quality of fertilizers marketed in West Africa. The most recent, 2 conducted by IFDC between 2010 and 2013 made quality assessments in five countries –Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal – showed large quality differences between countries, but in general, the NPK fertilizers manufactured through blending presented the most frequent cases of poor quality compared with compound products. More specifically, 51 percent of the 106 samples of the NPK 15-15-15 blend were out of compliance with the then newly adopted ECOWAS tolerance limits for nutrient content deviations. Similarly, other products that failed to meet the ECOWAS quality standards were 86 percent of the 90 samples of the NPK 20-10-10 blend, 12 percent of the 30 samples of the NPK 6-20-10 blend, 96 percent of the 27 samples of the NPK 15-10-10 blend, 31 percent of the 23 samples of Asaase Wura (NPK 0-22-18+9CaO+7S+5MgO) and 26 percent of the 27 samples of Cocoa Feed (NPK 0-30-20). Data from the study indicated that nutrient shortages among the blended fertilizers can be explained by segregation of fertilizer components due to uneven size of granules in some cases and by insufficient input of some of the nutrients during manufacture in other cases. In contrast to the blended products, the only compound products that failed to meet the ECOWAS quality standard were 4 percent of the 534 samples of urea, 10 percent of the 356 samples of the compound NPK 15- 15-15, 16 percent of the 162 samples of AS (NPK 21-0-0 +24S), 15 percent of the 162 samples of compound NPK 16-16-16, 1 percent of the 103 samples of compound NPK 23-10-5 and 4 percent of the 90 samples of Sulfan (NPK 24-0-0+6S). While the proportions of non-compliant samples observed in the compound products are lower than the ones observed in blended products, these can still be considered high for imported products. This result confirms the finding of a previous assessment IFDC carried out in West Africa in 19953 indicating that 10 of the 29 samples of NPK compounds examined were nutrient-deficient. An analysis of the weight of 1,055 fertilizer bags collected from all five countries indicated that there was a 41 percent chance that the bag weight does not comply with the ECOWAS tolerance limit in Nigeria, a 28 percent chance in Côte d’Ivoire, 13 percent in Senegal, 12 percent in Ghana and 7 percent in Togo. The only cases of completely proven adulteration are seven samples of SSP from Nigeria that were found to have no P2O5 content. While high percentages of nutrient deficient samples in some NPK blends found in some countries could be interpreted as fraud during manufacturing or along the distribution chain, this was not substantiated by findings of this study; the lack of or poor control of blending procedures and use of inadequate blending equipment can be also possible explanations. The fertilizer quality assessments conducted between 2010 and 2013 were part of the activities of the IFDC MIR-Plus project4 . Following adoption of the Regulation C/REG.13/12/12 relating to fertilizer quality control in the ECOWAS region, the ECOWAS Commission gave IFDC through the USAID-funded West Africa Fertilizer Program (WAFP)5 the mandate to facilitate its implementation in member States. The fertilizer quality assessment in additional ECOWAS Member States like Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Liberia is part of WAFP’s efforts. A fertilizer quality assessment study has been conducted in Mali between July 2014 and May 2015 and its findings are presented in this report. The main objective of this project was to assess the quality of fertilizers in the markets of Mali, classify the problems according with their origin and identify factors that contribute to the quality problems. This information is expected to be used by the Government of Mali and ECOWAS as baseline to work toward domestication of the ECOWAS regulatory system to improve the Mali regulatory system in terms of efficacy and harmony with the regional regulatory system.
Agricultural productivity, Fertilizers