Africa supporting farmers amid food security fears

African governments are expanding support for smallholder farmers, according to fertilizer company Omnia Holdings, amid worries that rising input costs, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, could reduce crop output and create food poverty.

In various Sub-Saharan African nations, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Kenya, and Tanzania, Omnia provides fertilizer to both commercial and smallholder farmers.

The war between Russia and Ukraine, two key fertilizer exporters, has hastened price hikes that were sparked by supply chain interruptions caused by COVID-19. Since January 2021, prices of fertilizer raw materials have increased by 200 percent to 400 percent, according to Omnia.

Rising input costs, according to aid groups, might drive Africa’s smallholder farmers to curtail plantings of basic cereals like maize, creating a food crisis in a region where COVID-19, violent conflicts, and climatic shocks have already pushed millions into deep poverty.

In an interview with media, Omnia Holdings CEO Seelan Gobalsamy said that worries of fertilizer shortages as a result of the violence were pushing demand ahead of the planting season.

“Food security is a problem for governments and countries all around the world. Everyone wants a steady supply of fertilizer, which boosts costs and creates concerns about food security in the near future “According to Gobalsamy.

“What we’re seeing is a lot more government assistance for smaller farmers, to aid those farmers because they have two roles – a subsistence role and a commercial one,” he said, referring to African nations.

Omnia said on Monday that its full-year revenue was 21.437 billion rand ($1.34 billion), up 30% from the same period last year, thanks to higher commodity prices and sales. In comparison to the previous year, headline profits per share (the major profit indicator in South Africa) increased by 86 percent to 6.72 rand.

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