This webinar seeks to foster an evidence-based exchange of views and sharing of experiences among GFAR members and networks on the nature and impacts of fertilizer shortages and price hikes in their regions. It will identify possible actions and solutions that GFAR members can implement in the short, medium and longer term, including fostering better use of fertilizer and the identification and development of alternatives at the regional, national and local levels. The webinar and discussions will be recorded and made available via GFAR platforms and a short report will be drafted and shared after the event.
According to the Food security: the Commission addresses the availability and affordability of fertilisers in the EU and globally, fertile soils enable the transformation of agrifood systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable. Fertilizers play a significant role in assuring soil fertility and contribute to ensure food security for all. However, the 5F crisis (food, feed, fuel, fertilizer and finance) has disrupted supply chains, worsening an already challenging situation for global fertilizer markets, affecting food prices and global food security. This comes on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the context of accelerating impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss in agrifood systems. This has underlined the need to foster more sustainable development pathways, better fertilizer use and the development of alternatives in developing countries and regions.
Chemical fertilizers are one element of solutions employed by farmers to address the challenges of plant productivity and increasing yields. However these agricultural inputs can also be difficult to access, especially by poor small-scale producers in developing countries due to the cost of these fertilizers and limited access to credit, and are having an impact on climate change and biodiversity. Such resource-poor farmers in marginal areas of Africa, Asia and small island states are also particularly vulnerable to trade shocks which undermine access to imported fertilizers.
However, obstacles to accessing fertilizers not only present challenges, but also represent an opportunity to call for change. This might include boosting the production of alternatives to chemical fertilizers at regional and local levels. For example, fostering the production and increased use of organic and bio-fertilizers produced nationally and locally to reduce dependence on imports, increasing the production of legumes to increase the capture of nitrogen, promoting agroforestry that recycles nutrients from the deeper layers of soils and promoting the production of crops that are less dependent on soil nutrients. These are just some of the alternatives that can be considered according to their relevance for different contexts.
The costs of chemical fertilizer subsidies have grown dramatically throughout Asia and the Pacific, in many cases now consuming some 50% of national government spending in agriculture. This poses a serious challenge to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and specifically SDGs 1 and 2. The picture is very diverse across countries and regions: Jordan, for example, can benefit from this global surge in fertilizer prices as it produces and exports fertilizers.
Addressing the challenges posed by the disruption of fertilizer supply chains and ensuring the availability and affordability of fertilizers taking a holistic approach of soil fertility is an opportunity to strengthen the resilience and sustainability of food systems in the medium and the long-term.
In summary, three key issues are at stake:
(i) addressing the challenges posed by the disruption of fertilizer supply chains, especially for small-scale producers;
(ii) supporting the development of regional and local alternatives (organic fertilizers and bio-fertilizers),
(iii) supporting agroecological practices to decrease the dependence to external inputs
This webinar will provide an opportunity to engage international and regional stakeholders in a fundamental rethink of diverse approaches to addressing soil fertility challenges and a space to consider ways to reduce dependence on imported chemical fertilizers, encouraging more sustainable and efficient use of fertilizers and considering the development of more sustainable alternatives over the medium and long term. This process of reflection will inform responses and actions that can be taken by countries / GFAR members and stakeholders to address soil fertility challenges, including ensuring availability of and access to fertilizers at regional and country levels and including support to agroecological farming systems. This will necessarily involve the development of alternative sources of soil nutrients and the development of regional and national fertilizer production and supply chains, including organic and bio-fertilizers.
This webinar is designed to gather perspectives from GFAR Regional Fora and members at regional and country levels on the stakes and possible solutions related to soil fertility, access to fertilizer and the development of alternatives. GFAR stakeholders will be asked to consider building on the exchange at the webinar to develop a set of GFAR principles for increasing the accessibility and affordability of fertilizers to inform future actions (such as a potential GFAR Collective Action).
Key questions to inform discussion
- What are the key constraints and changes in terms of agricultural production due to the more difficult access to fertilizers in the wake of the war in Ukraine (but also due to high energy prices) and especially the implications for inclusive development? This will include reflecting on the impacts of high prices, production bottlenecks, change in production and consumption, marketing, export and distribution issues – particularly those that most affect poor and disadvantaged producers and consumers.
- What is at stake for producers in different regions and for the different categories of people, particularly small-scale producers, youth and women?
- What are the potential solutions to these problems in fertilizer markets tailored to diverse regions – in the short, medium and longer term?
- What viable alternatives need to be developed to reduce dependence on imported chemical fertilizers in agricultural production? These alternatives might include: investing in agroecology as an integrated approach to foster sustainable food and agriculture; agroforestry; strengthening crop-livestock systems; crop rotation and investing in cover crops for legumes; among others.
- Are there opportunities to incentivize the production, marketing and use of organic and greener fertilizers and making use of innovations developed by local farmers – substituting or complementing mineral fertilizers, where possible? What investments and actions are needed to develop these alternatives and provide the training to farmers, research and advisory services?
- How can countries in the global North take action to mitigate the negative impacts on the livelihoods and incomes of small-scale producers in the global South, particularly for women, youth, indigenous peoples and people living with disabilities in rural areas of the regions?
- How have rising prices and supply chain obstacles impacted agriculture and small-scale producers in the regions, in particular women and youth? How can we support the smart application and use of scarce fertilizer resources?
- Based on a common understanding of the issues and challenges, can we identify emerging common principles to guide the future development of appropriate policies and actions at global, regional and national levels to both mitigate the impacts of the war in Ukraine on access to fertilizers and to address the current challenges (climate change, biodiversity loss, inequalities)?
- Representatives of GFAR constituencies at the country and regional levels, including: research organizations, such as AARINENA in the Near East and North Africa, APAARI in the Asia-Pacific region, FARA in Africa and CACAARI in Central Asia and the Caucuses; representatives of regional producer organizations; National Agricultural Research Systems; private sector; and civil society.
- Farmers and producer organization representatives
- EC, Germany, other interested EU Member States representatives
- Selected international experts and resource persons (inter alia from FAO and IFAD)
- GFAR Chair, Vice Chair, Steering Committee members
- GFAR Secretariat
- Moderator: Nathalie Doré