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Fertiliser needed to boost crop production in LDCs

The increasingly meager levels of crop output by some of the world's least developed countries has brought awareness to a need for better fertiliser utilisation for smallholder farmers, mainly in Africa. Affordability and access have been identified as major qualifiers in the soil infertility prevalent on African farms.

Roy Rabindranath of FAO's Plant Production and Protection Division, told MediaGlobal "it is possible" to make fertilis1er affordable for African farmers. "As of now, the farm gate cost is about two to three times higher than the international price of fertilisers. This is mainly due to higher cost of importation in small quantities and internal distribution cost due to inadequate transport infrastructure."

This being the case, the African Fertiliser Financing Mechanism was established, and with it the African Regional Fertiliser Procurement Facility (ARFPF). Ideally, ARFPF will aggregate fertiliser orders across agro-dealers and countries in order to increase buying power, making more affordable fertiliser available to smallholder farmers.

Increased access to fertiliser, according to Rabindranath, poses "no danger of negative impacts in the near future. However, best management practices, including integrated nutrient management (INM) principles, particularly in the low rainfall areas, should be ensured."

Rabindranath added, "Continuous nutrient mining from the soils due to inadequate nutrients application is a major environmental threat." What he calls a "reasonable increase in fertiliser use and consequent productivity increase," though, "would not have any deleterious effect provided farmers education on best management practices, including INM, goes along with it."

Article published courtesy of

Read more: fertiliser, crops

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