By Kevin M. Cleaver
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Additional resources for Agriculture, poverty, and policy reform in Sub-Saharan Africa
In sixteen of the twenty-nine countries reviewed in the adjustment study referred to previously, fertilizer subsidies had been reduced or eliminated, and virtually total decontrol of fertilizer marketing achieved. The removal of subsidies has not been associated with reduced fertilizer use. In fact, some of the countries removing subsidies had the most rapid increase in fertilizer use in the 19851991 period (including Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, and Tanzania). Several countries removing subsidies experienced slow growth or reduction in the use of fertilizer; among them Cameroon, Mali, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone.
The complementary goals of poverty alleviation, environmental protection, and reducing counstraints on women all required rapid agricultural growth. This is because most of the poor live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture. Farmers are the primary managers of soils, water and pastures and therefore will need to manage problems arising from the deterioration of natural resources. Most working women are in agriculture. The strategy proposed by the World Bank to achieve those goals included the following elements:13 A policy environment which makes intensive agriculture profitable to farmers and increases the role of the private sector and of rural associations in agriculture services; New technologies and higher valued crops; More intensive use of chemical and organic inputs; Integration of livestock to use animal power and manure; Better techniques of irrigation, hand tools, and crop storage; Better rural infrastructure, especially roads, to improve markets and strengthen rural-urban links; Greater security of land tenure to encourage investment and better land management; Improved financial services to help farmers save, borrow and invest; Better education and health for farmers; Better natural resource management and environmental protection; Greater participation of farmers in services, especially of women farmers.
Source: Table A7. Page 13 In some of the countries mentioned in the table, most of the growth in fertilizer use took place in the last two years of the period, and choosing different end points for the series may have given different growth rates in some cases. 8 percent of total world consumption in 1986, and about 1 percent in 1991. It thus remains a very insubstantial player in the fertilizer market, which in part accounts for the high costs of fertilizer procurement for many African countries.