Apart from water and finance (separate categories) to ensure agriculture as a “sustainable business”, no less important are crop nutrients and energy.
Access to good fertilizers have helped over 1.8 million African farmers revive 3.5 million hectares. Crop nutrients, including fertilizers, manure, compost and crop residue, are vital in maintaining a soil’s fertility. An estimated 75 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s soil is degraded, leading to assessed annual loses of about eight million tons, or $4 billion annually.
Fertilizers can have an immediate impact on smallholder farmers’ crops, doubling or tripling farm productivity in a single season. According to the International Fertilizer Industry Association, farmers obtain five kilograms to 30 kilograms of additional product for every one kilogram of nutrient applied.
Fertilizers are underused throughout the continent and its accessibility remains a necessary challenge to overcome.
Providing energy is an essential component of agricultural production. It is required directly as a fuel to operate agricultural machinery such as tractors and harvesters as well as for operating irrigation systems and pumps running on electricity, diesel or other sources of energy. Energy is also required in processing and conserving agricultural products, and in transportation and storage. Therefore, energy is a critical factor in sustaining the agricultural sector.
The energy market in Africa faces immense challenges, and overcoming them, would invariably boost the agricultural industry.