SOAS University of London

CeDEP Professor at meeting on fertiliser and seed policy in Africa

13 December 2013
Andrew Dorward

Professor of Development Economics, Andrew Dorward, recently attended a ‘technical convening  on seed and fertiliser policy in Africa’, held in Addis Ababa from 5th to 7th December 2013.

The meeting, convened by the Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes (ReNAPRI) and the African Fertilizer Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), brought together key experts across a range of institutions and perspectives to develop common agreement on critical practical, implementable and politically feasible seed and fertilizer policy changes. This  consensus is intended to contribute to 2014 Africa Union Year of Agriculture policy discussions as well as to regional and national policy-making institutions – with the aim of promoting better and more accessible inputs for Africa’s farmers.

Key challenges addressed in the meeting included:

  • High cost fertilizer value chains as a result of high transport and transaction costs, lack of competition and over reliance on often costly and inefficient government subsidies to bring costs down
  • Administrative inefficiencies and political economy processes preventing greater private sector involvement in seed provision despite recent policy changes in many countries
  • Over reliance on often poorly resourced public sector actors in input supply, and limited progress in development of more efficient complementary roles for public and private sector organisations in promoting better access to inputs by farmers  
  • Perverse political economy processes which lead private and public sector actors to prefer current  low-performing systems
  • Difficulties in balancing short term needs against medium term solutions
  • Complementarity between soil health/fertility and cultural practices on the one hand and efficient use of seed and fertiliser inputs

There was a strong focus in the meeting on practical recommendations and the range of policy, agronomic, business and academic expertise in the meeting. This led to unique and valuable discussions and a strong set of ideas and proposals to take forward within specific countries and across the continent. The extent to which these will lead to concrete change remains to be seen.

Professor Dorward has been involved in extensive work on fertiliser and seed subsidies in Malawi, and has recently co-authored a book on this.

For further information, contact:

Andrew Dorward