The OCP’s fertilizer sales in Africa moved from 208,000 tonnes to 2 million tonnes in 10 years.
Rabat – In collaboration with Morocco’s OCP Group, the Oxford Business Group has released its latest report exploring the current trends in, and assets of, Africa’s agriculture.
The report introduced Africa as a home for agriculture due to its promising potential that can serve not only its food demand but for the needs of the world at large.
Agriculture is one of the pillars of Africa’s economy, accounting for 14% of the total gross domestic product (GDP) in sub-Saharan Africa.
The statistics also identified agriculture as a direct employer for the majority of the continent’s population.
The Oxford Business Group’s report also features an interview with the CEO of OCP Africa, Mohamed Anouar Jamali, who discussed the group’s efforts and leadership in mitigating the COVID-19 crisis in the agriculture sector as well as the pandemic’s overall impact in Morocco and across the continent.
Jamali acknowledged the significant impact the Coronavirus had on all business sectors and firms across the world.
He noted agriculture’s resilience, attributing the success to the government’s support.
The OCP official shared statistics, reflecting the importance of agriculture for Africa; the sector employs six out 10 people across the continent, he explained, noting its potential for development.
The sector also accounts for approximately 15% of Africa’s GDP.
“The heightened risk of food insecurity due to the pandemic has led governments and businesses to boost efforts to keep agricultural operations running smoothly and safely,” Anouar Jamali said.
The OCP official also cited an overview from the World Bank showing the resilience of the agriculture sector despite the pandemic.
According to the World Bank, the world market for agricultural products fared better than overall trade thanks to government support schemes in many countries.
However, COVID-19 measures, including social distancing, posed an acute challenge for farmers, preventing them from reaching out to their customers directly.
The pandemic’s measures also made finding seasonal workers “more difficult,” with cooperatives finding particularly challenging to secure “enough buyers,” Anouar Jamali emphasized.
The OCP official stressed the importance of government aid to the sector amid the pandemic, saying government subsidies forced international organizations to “rethink how food supply chains function to ensure food can still reach consumers.”
More than 60% of Africa’s population live in rural areas, according to converging data. This population mainly depends on smallholder or family farming.
“Therefore, movement restrictions, disruptions to food supply, and limited market access can have devastating effects, such as heightened food insecurity.”
To address such challenges, OCP Africa suggests that investment in technology and training can improve supply chains across the continent.
Morocco’s OCP Group launched its OCP Africa initiative in 2016, a story of success for the company that secured major African markets.
As a pan-African venture, OCP Africa essentially seeks to contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture in Africa through developing fertilizer solutions customized to local needs.
Anouar Jamali explained the group’s role in coping with the pandemic crisis in the agriculture sector.
OCP Africa has taken several steps to help “mitigate major impacts” to maintain its leadership in the continent and worldwide, he said.
“We scaled up our flagship Agribooster programme that offers a holistic approach centered around smallholder farmers.”
The initiative works to help small farmers increase their production through agronomic training, as well as supply and financing mechanisms.
Anouar Jamali said that the COVID-19 initiative from the OCP has reached more than 350,0000 smallholder farmers in four countries.
“In Cote d’Ivoire, for example, OCP Africa supported the national ‘Plan d‘Urgence Riz’ through a comprehensive approach that includes supplying adapted inputs to rice farmers.”
Last week, OCP and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) signed a partnership agreement to boost the “Agribooster rice program” in Cote d’Ivoire.
The project focuses on supporting farmers in the African country to improve agricultural value chains.
The program will receive financial support to help approximately 20,000 smallholder rice farmers.
The Moroccan company has been emphasizing its commitment to continue to expand its projects for Africa to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.
OCP has remarkably contributed to the continent’s efforts in the field of “smart” and sustainable agriculture through several projects, including soil mapping.
OCP’s continental activities in numbers
The group supplied 58% of the phosphate-based fertilizers used in Africa in 2019, according to the Oxford Business Report.
OCP also made major investments across the continent. The group’s fertilizer sales to African countries increased by nearly nine-fold between 2010 and 2020, rising from 08,000 tonnes to 2 million tonnes.
The company’s investment in local production facilities also experienced a boost, said Habiba Mouttaki, the head of sales and marketing for OCP Africa.
“Customizing fertilizers depending on the needs and characteristics of the soil can have a huge impact on farmers’ productivity and revenue,” Mouttaki stressed.