This article was sponsored by OCP
OCP Africa, a subsidiary of the OCP Group (Office Chérifien des Phosphates), is making its presence felt at the 6th edition of the Salon International de l’Agriculture et des Ressources Animales d’Abidjan (SARA 2023). This event, which takes place from September 29 to October 8, 2023 at the Parc des Expositions in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, is an opportunity for OCP Africa to share its experience and highlight the positive impact of its contributions to the development of continental agriculture.
OCP Group and the State of Côte d’Ivoire sealed their partnership on March 22, 2022 through a cooperation agreement aimed at strengthening agricultural production systems, promoting the development of the processing industry and encouraging inclusive growth.
In collaboration with the Ivorian authorities, OCP Africa has identified five high-impact priority projects, which are currently being rolled out across the country.
The first of these projects involves the creation and commissioning of 10 new-generation Agricultural Service Centers (ASCs). Three CSA Hubs are already operational in Korhogo (where nearly 2,000 tonnes of fertilizer have been distributed to small farmers), Odienné (with 4,500 hectares of fully mechanized cereal crops) and Yamoussoukro. In addition, OCP Africa has collaborated with private partners to set up some 60 satellite CSAs to bring agricultural services closer to smallholders.
The second priority project is the implementation of a digital geographic and agricultural information platform (GIS-Agri-CI), aimed at developing a decision-support tool for frequent assessment of agricultural activity.
This technology will provide crucial information for the development of agricultural policies, in-season interventions through comprehensive monitoring of production campaigns, and facilitate decision-making for all stakeholders, including farmers, input suppliers, agricultural processing and marketing players, research institutes, agricultural technicians and public players. Currently, around one hundred agents are mobilized to collect field data. This field data, combined with radar and optical satellite images, is used to calibrate and adjust the platform’s models, facilitating automatic crop identification, plot delimitation, real-time crop growth monitoring and yield prediction, watercourse detection, and the provision of personalised agricultural advice for each plot. In addition, this platform will take advantage of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to detect and identify plant diseases, helping to improve crop yields and consequently farm incomes.
The third priority project involves the construction of Africa’s first Digital Farming School (DFS), in partnership with Morocco’s Mohamed 6 Polytechnic University (UM6P) and Yamoussoukro’s Institut Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny (INP-HB). This innovative AgriTech training concept, backed by a 170-hectare agricultural and digital experimental farm, represents a tangible contribution to the vision of the President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, SEM Alassane Ouattara, who has declared the year 2023 as the year of youth. Following the laying of the foundation stone by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research on June 9, 2023, construction of the DFS has progressed significantly over the past four months, with the first graduating class expected in September 2024.
Among the five priority projects identified by the Ivorian government and OCP Africa, the fourth concerns the launch of a start-up incubation program in the field of digital agriculture, called the Farming Innovation Program (FIP). This program aims to support innovative projects in the field of digital agriculture and was launched on October 20, 2022 by His Excellency the Prime Minister in San Pedro and His Excellency the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Following the program’s roadshow in five major regions of Côte d’Ivoire, attended by over 500 participants, 85 applications were received, covering various themes such as robotics, artificial intelligence, supply-chain and pest detection. The selected candidates benefited from technical mentoring, practical guidance and coaching sessions to develop their skills in management, fundraising and marketing their products. The five best start-ups will be rewarded at the Salon International de l’Agriculture et des Ressources Animales d’Abidjan (SARA).
Finally, the fifth priority project identified concerns the structuring of the cereal value chain (rice and corn), with the establishment of model farms as cornerstones. These Model Farms aggregate neighboring small farms, offering a full range of services and solutions, including mechanization, promotion of modern production techniques, financing and access to markets. By 2023, OCP Africa will be supporting nearly 4,000 rice and maize producers through this concept, in collaboration with associations, producer groups and private sector companies. This contribution will help secure significant agricultural production of rice and maize this year, with expected yields of over 5 tonnes per hectare on nearly 4,500 hectares in the northern, southern, southwestern and central regions.
Speaking at SARA, OCP Africa CEO Dr. Mohamed Anouar Jamali underlined OCP Group’s deep commitment to the Ivorian government. He declared: “Côte d’Ivoire is a veritable agricultural treasure trove in Africa, with immense potential. The figures speak for themselves: 1st world producer of cocoa, with production up by almost 50% in 10 years, 2nd African producer and 9th world producer of oil palm, 1st African producer of natural rubber and 4th world producer, 1st world producer of raw cashew nuts, with production of over one million tonnes. Our Group is committed to a number of structuring projects in line with the national agricultural development strategy. One of our key priorities is to make a modest contribution to modernising the sector, in particular by supporting small-scale farmers, understanding and protecting the soil, and adopting appropriate practices and technologies. By collaborating with the Ivorian government, we are proud to actively contribute to unlocking Côte d’Ivoire’s agricultural potential, for the good of the nation and its people.”