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June 13, 2007

Book on Africa's under-utilized fertilizer raw materials published

The International fertilizer Development Corporation (IFDC) in January 2007 published 'Fertilizer Raw Material Resources of Africa,' a 435-page reference by Steven J. Van Kauwenbergh, IFDC Senior Geologist.

The book is a collection of information that IFDC has gathered on Africa’s mineral resources that could be used to manufacture fertilizer. Much of the data is from Van Kauwenbergh’s research during his 22-year IFDC career. “The book is the first to cover all fertilizer raw material resources in Africa,” he says. “Writing the book was a wonderful opportunity to bring this information together under one cover.”

The book documents nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, and sulfur resources in Africa. The first four chapters give background information and serve as a basic textbook on fertilizers. The second half of the book is country descriptions—a general overview and geological description of each African country that has fertilizer raw materials.

“This publication is an IFDC contribution to meeting the objectives of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, or CAADP, and those of the Africa Fertilizer Summit,” says Dr. Amit Roy, IFDC President and Chief Executive Officer.

CAADP works to restore Africa’s agricultural growth and reduce food insecurity and poverty. In 2004, African ministers of agriculture passed a resolution calling for the development of Africa’s fertilizer industry to support CAADP. The resolution stated that fertilizer use in sub-Saharan Africa is only about 9 kg/ha, while fertilizer use in Asia was 150kg/ha during its Green Revolution.

The Africa Fertilizer Summit, held in Abuja, Nigeria in June 2006, laid the groundwork for the African Green Revolution called for by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Steps are now being taken to make fertilizer more readily available to fuel that Green Revolution. The African Development Bank is establishing an African Fertilizer Development Financing Mechanism, recommended at the Summit, to support regional fertilizer procurement, credit for imports, and development of local fertilizer production.

Van Kauwenbergh points out that six African countries control about 41.5% of the world’s currently exploitable phosphate rock reserves and 50.2% of the total global phosphate rock reserve base that may be exploitable in the future. “Ironically, Africa exports large quantities of phosphate rock, while importing manufactured fertilizers at costs that small-scale farmers can’t afford,” Van Kauwenbergh says. “Development of indigenous fertilizer raw material resources and local or regional fertilizer production facilities are alternatives to supply the nutrients that African farmers must have to feed growing populations."


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