NewsNorth AfricaMorocco: The future is 
made-to-order fertiliser - Amar Drissi


Posted on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 14:32

Morocco: The future is 
made-to-order fertiliser - Amar Drissi

Interview by 
Clarisse Juompan-Yakam

Amar Drissi - Executive director for industrial operations, Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP)/Photo/HASSAN OUAZZANI FOR JA

Moroccan company, office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP) will triple its production 
by 2020, a development that will strengthen its bottom line and commitment to food security, according 
to Amar Drissi, the state-run group's executive director for industrial operations.




The Africa Report: What role can the phosphate sector and OCP play in the improvement of food security?

Amar Drissi: With population growth, the demand for food grows. To respond to that, you need better agricultural productivity. Knowing that the territory cultivated per capita has dropped by half since the 1950s, the only way to increase production is through inputs, in this case those based on phosphates, an essential nutrient that cannot be produced synthetically. 
Controlling 85% of world phosphate reserves – 51bn tn of the discovered 60bn tn – and 30% of the global phosphate trade, OCP has a strategic and proactive role to play in improving food security. We have put in place a development strategy to augment our capacities, reduce costs, improve flexibility (so that supply responds to the market's needs) and encourage innovation to allow the company to produce more and better.

What does this mean in practical terms?

We have already disbursed about one-third of the funds for a Dh115bn ($13bn) investment programme that covers the period from 2010 to 2020. Its goal is to double mining production and triple fertiliser production. We are creating the world's largest chemical platform at Jorf Lasfar with the construction of 10 new fertiliser plants, each with an annual capacity of 1m tn. This will greatly increase our ­capacity and reduce costs. OCP has also worked on optimising its logistical network, for example, by building a 200km pipeline to transport phosphates from the mining site at Khouribga to Jorf ­Lasfar on the ­Atlantic coast.

Are phosphate fertilisers too expensive for African farmers?

Their use is very unequal across the world and does not depend solely on the cost of production, but largely on transportation, distribution and financing problems. On the global level, 100kg/ha is the average usage, but that rises to about 200kg/ha in developed countries. Use is limited to about 9kg/ha in Africa, a continent which otherwise has strong agricultural development potential due to the amount of arable land. 
By significantly increasing its agricultural production, Africa could feed itself and a good part of the world. The idea is to cultivate a 'doubly green' revolution, that is to say well-reasoned and rational agriculture that is able to reconcile greater growth with respect for the environment and the principle of equity. 
The capacity for innovation is an essential issue.

What are your research and development priorities?

Our current projects relate to the development of solid fertilisers and low-cost fertilisers, in addition to enriching poor quality phosphates. In partnership with the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, OCP has been developing maps of soil fertility. We are currently working on the one for Mali, and the project will cover the rest of the countries of sub-Sahara to create a South-South partnership. It will allow for the creation of made-to-order fertilisers adapted to the nature of the soils, which will allow for better performance. 
Innovation does not simply mean the development of new products, it also entails creating alternate dis­tribution models. This is something that OCP is working on in its public-
private ­partnerships. ●

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 18:21

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