By Joshua Masinde
Crop yields in Africa south of the Sahara are generally low, in large part because of low fertilizer use. A recent study of six countries in the region showed that only 35% of farmers applied fertilizer. There are many possible reasons why farmers do not use fertilizer. They may be unaware of its effectiveness; or have degraded soils that do not respond to fertilizer; they may not have the cash to purchase it; or unpredictable rainfall may make such investments risky. Local fertilizer prices may also cut into potential profits for many farmers.
A new report from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) finds that millions of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) source directly from millions more smallholder farmers across Africa South of the Sahara. These SMEs, often led by women, include food processors, wholesalers, and retailers. SMEs provide a range of services, from transport and logistics to the sale of inputs such as fertilizer and seed to farmers.