This article is sponsored by OCP
Since its creation more than a century ago, OCP Group has always worked to support sustainable agriculture across the world. OCP’s operations now span five continents and the entire agricultural value chain, from mining and manufacturing to farmer education and community development.
The adoption of good agricultural practices is a key part of building a resilient farming system. OCP promotes the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship – applying the right fertilizer, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place – to improve sustainability, enhance environmental protection and increase crop yields and farmer profitability.
African agriculture is at a transformational moment in history – and a time of incredible possibility and promise for farmers and industry alike. In 2016, OCP established the subsidiary OCP Africa to contribute to the sustainable development of African agriculture, which is a key component of global food security.
OCP Group thus supports, through a holistic, inclusive and partnership-based approach all the stakeholders of the agricultural value chain from government entities to non-profits and private enterprises – to connect farmers to the agricultural services, knowledge, and resources they need in order to prosper.
Morocco and Nigeria not only share complementary natural resources, namely Moroccan phosphate and Nigerian gas, but also a vision based on promoting sustainable socioeconomic development.
OCP Group is contributing to the further development of Nigeria’s agricultural potential, in line with the government’s strategy and priorities, by adopting a holistic approach which supports players along the entire agricultural value chain – from input providers to the produce end-users.
Towards a co-industrialization of adapted fertilizers
The collaboration between OCP and Nigerian industrials key players is grounded. Back in 2016, OCP Group first partnered with the Fertilizer Producers & Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FESPAN) under the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), supported by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
This collaboration stretched across the entire agricultural value chain, from the introduction of customized fertilizers adapted to local soils and crops to improving the availability of fertilizers in the local market at competitive prices. The partnership also included farmer support initiatives, supply chain development projects along with the strengthening of a close distribution system.
Concretely, this partnership allowed the rehabilitation of over 40 blending units (draining more than 400 million dollars) and a project led by OCP Group of creation of 3 blending units that are currently under construction in Kaduna, Ogun and Sokoto states. With a commissioning scheduled for 2021, these 3 units will have a total production capacity of 500,000 tons of fertilizers per year.
Following this project, another Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2018, during the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari, President Federal Republic of Nigeria, in Morocco, aimed at developing a multipurpose industrial platform in Nigeria, which will utilize Nigerian gas and Moroccan phosphate to produce 750,000 tons of ammonia and 1 million tons of phosphate fertilizers annually by 2025.
Furthermore, OCP Group has involved research in the Nigeria’s agricultural industry in order to produce fertilizers that are adapted to locas farmers’ need. Partnerships were signed with several institutions such as the International Institute of tropical agriculture (ITTA), the Bayero University of Kano (BUK), the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) and the Africa Soil Information Service (AFSIS), which was aimed at the development of customized fertilizer solutions for maize in Nigeria.
As a matter of fact, The R&D Track, conducted in eight maize growing states in Nigeria, enabled OCP to map 21 million hectares of soil, while soil samples were picked from 3,000 locations and analyzed to establish an accurate soil characterization.
Other R&D projects have focused on fertilizer for specific crops, including; for rice and soybean in partnership with the National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI); for cocoa in partnership with the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN); for Irish potatoes in partnership with the National Root Crops Research Institute; for oil palm with the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research; and other crops of interest such as tomatoes and sorghum.
The partnerships and projects led by OCP Group are not limited to industrialize and develop new fertilizers formulas. Other initiatives regarding farmer training and the promotion of entrepreneurship for women and youth also emerged.
Enhance agricultural and entrepreneurial capabilities
In Africa, the agricultural sector mostly involves families and the rural world. To ensure farmers have the resources needed to optimize their land’s potential, OCP AFRICA offers farmers a wide range of agricultural services, including interactive training sessions on best agricultural practices and soil-testing units demonstrating current technologies and innovations.
In line with this, OCP Group launched the OCP School Lab and Agribooster programs that aim to reinforce smallholder farmers capabilities. Launched in 2017 in Nigeria, OCP School Lab has already supported 327,448 farmers that benefited from soil analysis services, agronomic training and fertilizer use recommendations. The second program dedicated to farmers, Agribooster has reached 214,009 farmers to date, with a yield while increase of 46% on maize and 32% on rice.
Moreover, OCP launched the Farmer House hub and Agripromoters programs in Nigeria that are complementary: one focuses on bringing farm inputs and training under one roof whilst the other provides those inputs and delivers the training The Farmer House Hub aims to address the challenges of access to and the availability of production inputs by bringing them to smallholder farmers in rural communities, alongside training on good agricultural practices, and extension services.
Each Farmer House has a classroom, storage room, office space, water borehole, tricycles, digital soil testing lab, greenhouse, and smart blender. The program, which operates 51 outlets in 18 states across Nigeria, has provided access since 2019 to farm inputs and trained 29,250 smallholder farmers to date.
On the other hand, Agripromoters are agents who act as an extension of OCP and are attached to the Farmer Houses to provide farm inputs, farmer training, and demo plot activities, amongst other services.
More than 1,000 farmers have been trained on good agricultural practices. By 2024, these initiatives aim to reach 5 million farmers and to generate 40,000 jobs by leveraging partnerships with public and private players, as well as universities and cooperatives.
Further, the agricultural sector aims to become a crucial for youth employment. That is why the Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique (UM6P), in partnership with MassChallenge and supported by OCP Group and its subsidiary OCP Africa, has launched the Impulse Program dedicated to startups innovating in fields such as agritech, biotech, mining technologies and material science as well as nanotechnologies.
Young talents from Nigeria excelled within Impulse with the FoodLocker start-up that won the first price of the first cohort in 2020. Moreover, 3 other Nigerian startups were also won a prize during the same year (FarmCrowdy, Social Lender and ColdHubs).
Through these various programs and projects launched in Nigeria, OCP reaffirms its commitment to serve the people. . This will necessarily require a sustainable industrialization of agriculture, but also a reinforcement of human skills, mainly farmers. In addition to agricultural producers, the centenary Group gives a significant importance to R&D and youth initiatives, drivers of Collective Intelligence and Innovation.