WFO President at IFPRI policy seminar “Fertilizer Availability and Affordability: Implications for agricultural productivity and food security”
Yesterday, the President of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), Theo de Jager, brought the farmers’ voice into the event “Fertilizer Availability and Affordability: Implications for agricultural productivity and food security” organised by IFPRI within the seminar series on Food and Fertilizer Price Trends: Impacts on global food security.
The invasion of Ukraine has driven up already high global agricultural commodity prices. Fertilizer prices have also reached all-time highs, casting a harsh shadow on future harvests and thus adding to concerns about global food security.
Invited speakers addressed the implications of increased prices on fertilizer demand, usage and productivity, the viability of government fertilizer subsidies and soil health.
FAO has estimated that if there is a prolonged disruption in exports of wheat, fertilizers, and other items from Ukraine and Russia, the number of undernourished people worldwide could increase by 8 to 13 million people in 2022/23, with the most pronounced increases taking place in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
WFO is particularly concerned about the extremely difficult situation, with farmers in many world regions feeling the burden of this crisis.
For example, farmers in Mauritius are particularly suffering from fertilizers’ high prices as farmers cannot afford to buy them anymore, and that is causing tremendous impacts on those sectors that are highly dependent on fertilisers, for example, hydroponic cultivation. Farmers that cannot afford fertilisers are not producing.
Farmers in Ivory Coast highlight the same, also lamenting the fragmentation of farmers in West Africa with fewer possibilities for farmers to pool resources to face the crisis.
On another side of the world, EU farmers have sourced most of the fertilisers needed for this cropping season. However, the extra price they had to pay generated concerns over their income for the crop year 2022, which is likely to shrink dramatically.
“Farmers need peace, but more than that, peace needs farmers.” – WFO President Theo de Jager
In his intervention, the WFO President underlined how farmers’ limited access to fertilisers could hamper food production with short- and long-term impacts on farmers’ revenues, livelihoods, and world food security: “The main talk among farmers is about fertilizers: prices are +/- 78% higher than 20/21 and, for that, many fields are not being planted. Farmers feel it’s not worth the risk on marginal fields,” he said, pointing out how essential it is to support the farmers’ communities worldwide by ensuring access to agricultural inputs, natural resources and agricultural infrastructures in the areas impacted by the conflict.
In this scenario, it is vital to identify priority actions aimed at protecting farmers’ livelihoods and food production, avoiding unilateral interventions.
WFO welcomed with great appreciation the initiative called by UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres to create a “Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance” to tackle the impacts of the conflict.
The Global Crisis Response Group was built to help decision-makers mobilise solutions and develop strategies and recommendations to help all countries, including the most vulnerable, whether the interlinked crises.
There is a strong urgency to invest in resilient and conflict-sensitive food systems, which involve the ability to withstand and recover from disruptions so that everyone has access, on an ongoing basis, to an adequate amount of food.