South Africa imports about 80% of its fertiliser, according to Thabile Nkunjana, agricultural economist at the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC). The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine means Mzansi’s food producers are forced to cough up almost double, with prices rising daily.
Joining the weekend edition of Farmer’s Inside Track,, Nkunjana says the Russia-Ukraine conflict will definitely affect South African farmers.
“Furthermore, Russia is the world’s largest exporter of fertilisers, accounting for 23% of ammonia, 10% of potage, 14% of urea, and 10% of phosphate. Before the conflict, South Africa had the third highest fertiliser prices in the world. Surely this time around, farmers need to prepare more for high fertiliser prices as they prepare for winter crops.”
Nkunjana adds that this is going to affect overall food production, because of the high fertiliser prices. And Mzansi food systems will be challenged because of higher costs overall.
Farmers in Mzansi can produce their own
He unpacks ways in which farmers can produce their own fertilisers. “The option for farmers who want to explore producing their own fertilisers is to try producing organic fertilisers, as by doing so they will be able to reduce their dependence on chemical inputs and lower their overall input cost while increasing their production.”
Nkunjana says that farmers can also try to make their own compost and fertilisers by using chicken waste or animal waste. It can assist them in cutting the input costs within their farm operations.
Mzansi is realising that agriculture is faced with difficult challenges, he adds. “We find ourselves in a simultaneous crisis in which the long-term effects of Covid-19 continue to shine a light on the instability of food systems.”
However, fertilisers are in short supply due to the conflict in Ukraine. “It is not possible to continue doing business as usual,” Nkunjana says.
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