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Crop protection companies making strides in Africa

Africa is making steady progress towards agricultural transformation. Over the past decade there has been a dramatic change in different countries and various localities. There is a noticeable upward shift in expenditure on agriculture by national governments in African countries.

Many countries have reaffirmed their commitment to prioritizing agriculture in their development agendas and are investing an increased proportion of their budgets in the sector from a growing national revenue base. There is evidence of faster growth in agricultural productivity, improved nutrition, and greater job expansion even in the non-farm segments of their economies.

Africa is a market that until recently has been underdeveloped and somewhat dormant but shows signs of strong growth. This comes at a time when land availability and food production are decelerating in other geographies.

The private sector is increasingly investing in agriculture, and the foundations have been laid for a renaissance in Africa’s agriculture, one powered by the enormous progress increasingly evident in farmers who are gaining more options in the seeds they plant, in the fertilizers and crop protection products they use, and in the markets available to purchase their produce.

These glimpses of success offer an inspiring new vision of a future Africa in which farming as a struggle to survive gives way to farming as a business that thrives. In the case of the crop protection industry there are problems such as a high degree of informality with an abundance of obsolete and counterfeit compounds in circulation being sold, in the absence of local dealership networks, by itinerant peddlers to uninformed farmers who are ill-prepared in the proper application parameters.

With rising incomes and the trend to urbanization, consumers are shifting away from purchasing essentially maize-based products or other cereals; and towards purchasing processed and fresh perishable foods, including meats and horticultural products.

Fortunately, governments, the private sector and multinational and national enterprises are aware of these problems and have taken steps to correct them by committing resources in manpower and monies to foster rapid and coherent development in the sector.

Multinational companies which have long been active on the continent are aware of the vast potential and realize that time is of the essence and are stepping up their involvement via direct investments and, equally importantly, forming partnerships and associations with research and extension entities both public and private to accelerate this process.

Although still predominantly rural, the continent has urbanized rapidly over the last six decades. According to official UN estimates, only 11% of the population lived in urban areas in 1950. Today this share is closer to 38% and is expected to reach 50% by 2040.

Moreover, it has been broadly recognized that since the turn of the century, Sub-Saharan Africa has greatly improved its growth trajectory, averaging a robust 3.1% growth rate from 2000 to 2016 (or 3.4% excluding South Africa). If this continues, it will spell fundamental changes to all levels of the food system.

With rising incomes and the trend to urbanization, consumers are shifting away from purchasing essentially maize-based products or other cereals; and towards purchasing processed and fresh perishable foods, including meats and horticultural products.

Thus, in order to meet the growing demand for consistent quantity and quality both locally and in export markets, horticultural and other farmers have great incentives to increase yields and minimize crop damage caused by insect, disease and weed infestation.

Environmental concerns

It is worth noting that the widespread introduction of crop protection technologies and products into Africa comes at a time when environmental and health concerns regarding pesticides is increasingly acute and growing. This will certainly signal a transition from traditional compounds to newer low-dose products and non-chemical options such as biological products – already in use in the continent’s floral and horticultural (and certain other row crops) industries.

Regardless, the inflow of pesticides on a larger scale will require increased farmer training and the adoption of the most recent technologies, such as integrated pest management (IPM).

Crop protection registration legislation and regulations have taken giant strides in the last two decades and at present countries are involved in harmonizing regional laws and regulations. To the degree that these initiatives are successful, another major impediment to growth prospects will have been removed and sales can be expected to accelerate even more.

The total commercial crop protection market in Africa stands at US$2.65 billion, exclusive of products destined to public health and domestic markets. Herbicides and insecticides combine for roughly 77% of placements.

In terms of crops, fruits, nuts and vegetables, shipments exceeded US$775 million in 2017 (29.2%), constitute the largest crop segment followed by maize (US$523 million – 19.7%). These crops are followed by wheat & small grains (8.7%), cotton (6.7%), rice (6.1%), cocoa (5.5%), and potatoes (4.0%). All the remaining crops profiled had shares in the >1%-4% range.

The largest country markets are South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia which account for almost 62% of shipments in 2017.

The leading sources of crop protection products are China (31%) and India (13%). The leading distribution companies in Africa are Syngenta, Bayer Crop Science, BASF, Dow-DuPont, Adama, Arysta, UPL, Sumitomo, Wynca Chemical, and others. All of these enterprises are increasing their presence across Africa.

For further information on Agrow Crop Protection Markets in Africa 2018, please follow this link.

 

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