MADAGASCAR – With a forecasted real GDP growth rising modestly to 5.3% in 2023 amid a severe food crisis in Madagascar, from an estimated 4.0% in 2022 by Fitch Solutions, the country is seeking an investment from Morocco in the fertilizer sector as part of its efforts to achieve farming self-sufficiency.

The country is currently facing a severe food crisis after experiencing four years of consecutive droughts. According to the World Food Program, this has left families in southern Madagascar “helpless and unable to feed themselves.”

The food crisis has engulfed several regions across the country, leaving an estimated 1.47 million people in the south of the country “in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance,” added the UN-affiliated program.

The global rise in fertilizer prices has exacerbated the drought situation, notably due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

In the country, the level of chemical fertilizer use per hectare is indeed one of the lowest on the continent with 8.8 kg in 2020 according to the FAO, i.e., a volume three times lower than the African average (26.4kg).

“We are seeking Moroccan fertilizers as well as investments in the fertilizers’ sector,” Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina told Reuters in an email, expressing his commitment to achieving farming self-sufficiency in his country.

“We need the expertise of all, notably the Moroccan Agri-food industry,” the president stressed, adding that setting up a fertilizer manufacturing plant is a “priority” for Madagascar.

President Andry underlined that the Moroccan group could notably set up a fertilizer production plant on the Big Island to reduce the country’s imports.

The imports reached nearly US$29 million in 2021, with shipments coming mainly from China, Vietnam, France, and Egypt according to data compiled on the Trade Map platform.

Notably, Morocco’s state-owned phosphate and fertilizer-produced Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) has already been involved in the Malagasy agricultural sector.

In 2017, the company launched “Agricultural Caravan, ” a project which targets 9 districts of agricultural regions, including the development of a fertility map over an area of 100,000 ha and training of producers in good agricultural practices and reasoned fertilization.

OCP has also been a major player in Africa’s agriculture system, offering 180,000 tonnes of soil nutrients in aid and 370,000 tonnes at a discount to help improve the continent’s food security and reduce prices of the commodity.

In addition, the company recently announced plans to allocate four million tonnes of fertilizers for African farmers in 2023 while also building blenders across the continent to customize fertilizers, as well as soil nutrient and ammonia production plants in Nigeria and Ethiopia.

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