Recently, the world's largest fertilizer producer, Office Cherifien des Phosphate (OCP), which has its base in Morocco, has invited journalists from some African countries to tour its facilities and a briefing on how it intends to provide food security for the ever-growing of the world's population. NURUDEEN ALIMI was among the invited journalists and gave the completion of a one-week trip.
Sustainable agriculture is the ability of farmers to produce food without affecting the environment, as well as the surrounding ecosystem.
There are several issues related to agriculture, and one of them is a biophysical issue. This is associated with activities such as the use of fertilizers, the use of artificial nutrients and crop rotation, as well as the availability of resources such as sunlight, water and wind.
Although all these factors are equally important for the growth of plants, fertilizers are gaining additional importance, since they help plants in the early stages of growth. Fertilizers are materials of synthetic or natural origin that are applied to plant tissues or soil to nourish plant nutrients that are critical to plant growth. Fertilizers are designed to increase plant growth.
Today, there are advanced fertilizer formulas that provide the same productivity and improve yield, while limiting the potential disadvantages of fertilizers, including phosphates, on the environment.
They are covered by the concept of "evergreen" agricultural revolutions, which allowed increasing yields while respecting ecosystems and the environment.
This practice of sustainable agriculture is based on the premise of the "right dose of fertilizer in the right place at the right time" and helped reduce the use of chemical fertilizers since 1990, for example, 20 percent for ten years in France,
For OCP, the impact of improved fertilizer use will help us sustainably meet the increased demand for fertilizers due to population growth, demands for global food security and the growing demand for biofuels.
In an effort to demonstrate what it offers and still must offer the African and global agricultural market, OCP, the world's leading fertilizer company in Morocco, invited 17 journalists from different African countries to inspect their facilities throughout the country from July 29 to August 5 August 2018.
At the headquarters of the company in Casablanca, which is the business center of Morocco, OCP managing director Mustafa El Uafi told reporters that the company's activities are from land to land.
"We take phosphate from the soil in the mines and prepare it for the ground to feed the plant. And all the preparation we do is to arrange the phosphorus in sufficient concentration and adequate form to be accessible to the plant.
"The plant feeds on three basic nutrients, which: nitrogen, phosphate and potassium grow.
Our activities here at OCP are mainly related to the extraction of phosphate, but we combine these three basic elements for fertilizer production for the plant. "
El-Uafi, said that the difference between the three elements is that one of them is a chemical substance that is nitrogen, and phosphorus and potassium are minerals, of which are natural products.
He said that the need for fertilizers became urgent, as the world's population grows very quickly, and the arable land available for humanity to capital decreases.
"We have less arable land to feed the growing population, and the only way to solve this problem is to increase the yield from available arable land. The increase in yield can occur through the use of different technologies. but mainly due to the introduction of fertilizers in the plant. "
With access to one of the largest phosphate reserves in the world, the OCP Group is strategically important for the Moroccan economy and plays a leading role in the industrialization of the country and supports the government's desire to build trade and investment relations with sub-Saharan Africa,
Its most effective fertilizer consists of a combination of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, which OCP is developing thanks to almost one hundred of its status as one of the leading phosphate exporters in the world.
Given the state of agricultural development in Nigeria, the managing director of the OCP Group, Mr. Mustafa El-Kafi, said that knowledge sharing and technology transfer were needed.
El-Kafi explained that the company began its activity as a government mining company studying rich phosphate deposits in the country, becoming a vertically integrated agricultural company, promoting the value chain in the production and distribution of fertilizers.
The Managing Director explained the global reputation of OCP for the growing world population and the growing demand for phosphate and other products.
He said that Morocco is doing well in agriculture and is developing a lot of experience in the field of fertilizer and solar technology.
Employment in agriculture represents an important percentage of total employment. The government through OCP used its phosphates to increase its agricultural productivity.
Morocco has the largest phosphate deposits in the world, whose reserves can be exploited in the next 700 years.
The OCP Group is the company that is responsible for ensuring that the Kingdom of Morocco continues to produce phosphate and fertilizer production to achieve its vision of ensuring that the soil is fed to feed Africa and the entire planet.
Almost a century of 1920, to be precise, when OCP began its mining work in Morocco, the company experienced various levels of transformation. Currently, the main task of the OCP Group is the production of a wide range of phosphate based products to meet the specific needs of crops and livestock worldwide, producing high-quality and comfortable fertilizer soils based on research to feed farms around the world in order to boost food production .
The OCP Group has three-phase production lines that rely solely on the use of advanced technologies. The first of these is raw materials, phosphate, which is extracted from a mine located in Khouribga, a city in the southwestern part of Morocco.
Then the raw materials are transported through pipelines to industrial facilities, also located in Khuribga for thorough washing.
After the completion of the entire process, the washed phosphate product is transported via an underground 200 km world-class pipeline from the Khouribga facility to the Jorf Lasfar processing plant where it will be processed into fertilizer and based on phosphate products and derivatives at local use and for international exports.
The green energy park OCP, located in Benguerir, is the first, if it exists in Africa. The main role of the park is to pool resources, create synergy and position Morocco as a leader in innovation in renewable energy. An experimental project worth $ 25 million involves the development of scientific research, the optimization of the exploitation of Morocco's natural resources, the preservation of its environment, the maintenance of its economic and social development and the provision of a safe future for the next generation.
The green energy park, built on a land of 8 hectares, has an internal research platform of more than 3000 square meters, which unites several laboratories in solar photovoltaic and solar thermal zones.
OCP has a tree planting policy. After he completes the operation of a specific land area, the next line of action is to plant trees that can grow in the climate zone, such as Olives, Argan, Quercus ilex, Cypresses Atlantic and Mast tree. The team of journalists who were on tour had the honor to plant trees, as this became a tradition.
Starting OCP Africa
In 2016, the OCP Group announced the creation of OCP Africa to address the challenge of creating structured, effective and sustainable agricultural development throughout the continent.
In February 2016 in Morocco Egoratsiy, King Mohammed VI, a fertilizer production complex, the African Complex of Fertilizers (AFK) was opened.
The goal is to ensure the growth of the continent's market through continuous and regular supply of fertilizers.
The plant consists of a sulfuric acid unit that produces 1.4 million metric tons per year, a phosphoric acid block with a capacity of 450,000 tons per year, fertilizer plants with a capacity of 1 million tons per year; 62 MW and a storage infrastructure with a capacity of 200 00 metric tons.
Following the launch of the African Fertilizer Complex in March of that year, the group established nine branches in Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya. OCP has expanded its presence in Rwanda, Mozambique and Ethiopia.
After entering the markets of sub-Saharan Africa in 2016, OCP signed numerous contracts with private and state shareholders, trained and implemented thousands of farmers to effectively use fertilizers throughout Africa, helped various governments in their national agricultural caravans and heavily invested in agricultural land , focused research.
The company signed an agreement with the government of Ethiopia to develop a plan to produce world-class fertilizers by 2012 with a capacity of 2.5 million tons per year, which in the near future will reach 3.8 million tons.
Satisfaction of fertilizer requirements in Africa
Managing Director of the OCP Group, Mustafa El Huifi, noted that the company is making great efforts to meet the broad demand of African countries for fertilizers.
According to him, the group has identified demand in the African partner countries and will monitor it, wherever it is.
According to Kuafi, the company expects to increase the demand for fertilizers on the international market.
Analysts expect that by 2027 strong demand will amount to 12 to 14 million additional tons.
In an effort to capture 50 percent of global demand by 2027, OCP considers Nigeria one of the most important fertilizer users on the continent.
Strengthening the technical and scientific capabilities of small farmers
As part of its strategies, PGR has integrated agricultural mechanisms in host countries to strengthen the technical and scientific capacity of small farmers to monitor good agricultural practices.
The head of the mission to the Secretary-General of the Mohamed VI Polytechnic University, established around the world, sponsored by OCP, Khalid Buddo said that the institution is focused on addressing issues of industrialization and food production and it is ready to help Nigeria build up fertilizer production capacities,
According to him, the industry uses sophisticated technologies in the production of fertilizers, and the operation and maintenance of fertilizer plants requires skills of the highest order.
OCP / Nigeria
Indeed, various agreements between the federal government and Morocco provide effective results for both countries, which establish a model for cooperation to sub-Saharan Africa, which is also a win-win partnership.
Morocco and Nigeria signed three cooperation agreements, including the strategic pipeline agreement between Morocco and Nigeria, during the visit of President Muhammad Bukhari.
5,600 kilometer pipelines will give Africa a new economic, political and strategic dimension and will place both countries as two leaders of South-South cooperation.
Another agreement was a Memorandum of Understanding between the OCP Group and the National Investment Authority of Nigeria (NSIA) to develop an industrial platform for the production of ammonia and related products.
There is also an agreement on cooperation in agricultural training and technical supervision between the agriculture ministries of both countries for the joint development of agriculture and fisheries in West Africa.
The group signed an agreement with Dangote to build a fertilizer platform that will be equipped with gas from Nigeria and phosphate provided by OCP.
Governor Bauchi Mohammed Abubakar during a visit to the Polytechnic University of King Mohammed VI, Ben-Gehrir, Morocco, has requested and obtained consent for the construction of a new fertilizer plant in the state.
More than 30,000 farmers will benefit from the cooperation of the government of the state of Bauchi with the OCP Africa School Project, which provides an instant analysis of the mobility of the soil to determine the appropriate fertilizer that will be used by farmers to increase yields.
The government of the State of Bauci, along with three other states, has concluded an agreement with OCP Africa on the school laboratory project.
Synergy with Nigerian stakeholders
In 2016, the OCP and the Association of Fertilizer Manufacturers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the agricultural industry in Nigeria.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Abuja in the presence of King Mohammed VI and President Muhammad Bukhari.
The Memorandum of Understanding contributes to the Nigerian agricultural sector by supplying fertilizers that are adapted to local oils and crops, while ensuring farmers' access to continued production of fertilizers.
Cooperation between the OCP Group and FEPSAN covers a wide range of issues related to the agricultural sector.
These include the introduction of fertilizers that can adapt to soils and crops, market supplies of fertilizers and support to local farmers.