This article was sponsored by OCP
Marrakech is hosting the 14th edition of the US Africa Business Summit, organized by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and under the theme “Building forward together”, from July 19-23.
Participating in the “Scene Setter Plenary: Building Forward Together”, Iliass Elfali, Managing Director of Corporate Strategy and Sustainability at OCP Group, stressed the importance of tackling challenges hampering agriculture development on the continent and outlined the group’s commitment to strengthen food security.
Against a background of rising food scarcity, Mr. Elfali said that OCP plans to raise production capacity by a further 1m tonnes this year and 3m next year to ensure the availability and affordability of fertilizers.
During the session, he highlighted that Africa continues to be a net importer of food products despite its rich resources. He recalled that agriculture employs a third of Africa’s population and contributes up to 50% of several countries’ GDPs. Population growth and limited availability of arable land are structural challenges when it comes to food security. He therefore underlined the importance of a common commitment across the entire food value chain to build forward together.
Moreover, through the launch of a fertilizer relief programme, OCP seeks to empower African farmers by bringing 550,000 tonnes of fertilizers to the continent. This programme will include donating and selling at a discount price fertilizer volumes.
Insisting that in considering Africa is part of the solution rather than the problem, Elfali emphasized the necessity of enhanced public-private cooperation. “Transformation of agriculture cannot be done without the contribution of smallholder farmers,” he said.
While participating in the “High-Level Dialogue: Building a Sustainable Food Ecosystem” panel, Nada El Majdoub, OCP’s Executive Vice President, Performance Management, addressed the challenges that the fertilizer industry is facing, particularly when it comes to the affordability and availability of fertilizers.
Although such challenges existed prior to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, she acknowledged that the war has exacerbated such issues. However, Ms. El Majdoub recalled OCP’s leadership in the fertilizers industry, noting that the group is the “largest producer and exporter for phosphate-based fertilizer solutions” and emphasized OCP’s efforts to help African farmers in the current context.
She said that smallholder farmers were already financially challenged before the recent challenges imposed on them. Addressing the summit’s panelists and attendees, she also emphasized the central role that education, science, knowledge, and digital input can play in tackling the crisis.
She concluded by stressing the need for the public sector to place agriculture on the top of its agenda. “That would be enough to come up with a solution,” she argued.