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Fertilizers in 2024: Africa's top business ideas and opportunities

With the world's lowest fertilizer use per hectare of farmland, Africa is a key multi-billion-dollar growth opportunity for fertilizers. This guide explores Africa's most lucrative opportunities in this exciting market.

Africa presents a huge market opportunity for both synthetic and organic fertilizers. Photo by Arktivate.

In the last 50 years, the average amount of fertilizer used per hectare of farmland around the world has tripled, rising from 22.6 kilograms in 1970 to 70 kgs by 2019.

In countries like China and India, fertilizer use has grown by as much as 500% and 1,200% respectively in the same period.

With global demand for fertilizer valued at $323 billion (2021), the market for fertilizer is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% and could be worth $500 billion by the end of the decade.

Within a century, the world’s population has nearly doubled and is projected to reach 10 billion by 2050. With more mouths to feed and the growing need to counter the effects of climate change which threaten agricultural production, the global demand for fertilizers has skyrocketed.

By the start of 2022, fertilizer prices had risen by as much as 30% even after an 80% price surge in 2021.

A combination of factors that include rising input costs, supply restrictions due to sanctions and geopolitical tensions due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and export limits by China are likely to continue applying upward pressure on fertilizer prices in the years to come.

When it comes to Africa, the prospects for fertilizer are daunting but exciting.

With one of the lowest fertilizer use rates in the world, sub-Saharan Africa has an average fertilizer application rate of 22 kilograms per hectare.

Africa's fertilizer use is seven times lower than the world average (146 kilograms per hectare) and four times lower than the FAO’s recommendation of 86 kgs per hectare.

Therefore, in order to feed itself, strengthen food security, and limit the devastating impacts of climate change, Africa presents a significant growth market for fertilizer production and consumption due to the factors described in this guide.

This guide explores the most lucrative opportunities emerging in Africa's huge but largely untapped fertilizer market. We also present inspiring success stories of African businesses that are creating enormous value and wealth in the continent's fertilizer market.

The commercial production of fertilizer can transform Africa and allow the continent's farmers to grow enough food to feed a fast-growing population.

By enriching and replenishing soils with essential nutrients that have been depleted by overuse or erosion, fertilizers help to boost plant growth, increase crop yields at harvest, and make plants more resistant to pests and diseases.

As a result, farmers can consistently produce more food from limited land resources, making the continent’s agriculture more productive and efficient.

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