A new initiative aimed at establishing a harmonized framework, that will improve regulation of fertilizers across Southern Africa, has been launched in Malawi by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and the Government of Malawi. The programme, the Harmonized Fertilizer Regulatory Framework (HFRF) project, also seeks to enhance integration and improve access to regional fertilizer markets. This regional initiative is being implemented in the 16 SADC Member States.
“This project will be implemented in collaboration with the Hand in Hand initiative, an evidence based country-led and country-owned initiative to accelerate agricultural transformation and sustainable development to eradicate poverty. It contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 2 -Zero Hunger, and is aligned with the Malawi 2063 Agenda pillar 1 of agricultural productivity and commercialization, specifically to improve production and incomes of the majority of people, with emphasis on effective governance systems and institutions as an enabler,” said Zhijun Chen, FAO Representative in Malawi.
The project will go a long way towards strengthening the fertilizer regulatory framework by putting in place quality control standards and enforcement mechanisms at the regional level with input from all the 16 SADC countries. The lack of a regulatory framework that harmonizes the trade and use of fertilizers in SADC Member States means that each country functions with different regulatory frameworks.
By establishing the Regional Harmonized Fertilizer Regulatory Framework, the project will therefore help to amalgamate ongoing efforts on fertilizer quality control and enforcement of standards across the region. The sustainability of this initiative is assured because countries will participate in the framework development and align their national fertilizer regulatory frameworks to the agreed regional framework.
In Malawi, adulteration of fertilizers, underweight packaging and poor quality of fertilizers are some of the challenges that smallholder farmers face. Overall, the low agricultural productivity, which predominates in SADC countries, is due in part to misuse and underuse of low quality fertilizers.
“Access to, and judicious use of, high quality fertilizers is key to high agricultural productivity,” said Sandram Maweru, Principal Secretary for Irrigation at the Ministry of Agriculture.
He emphasized the importance of having a conducive environment for agricultural development, citing the need to address challenges that farmers face including high cost of fertilizers, untimely access to fertilizers, poor quality of fertilizer, and late fertilizer application, all of which have an impact on food, nutrition and income security.
The launch of the project took place virtually on 28 July 2021, with participation from a wide range of stakeholders including the academia, research, government, non-governmental and civil society actors. The event also served as a platform for validation of the country’s fertilizer assessment report, which was endorsed during the meeting.
The Malawi component of the Regional Harmonized Fertilizer Regulatory Framework project is being implemented by the Government of Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture, with technical support from FAO and African Fertilizer and Business Partnership (AFAP) between June 2021 to August 2022.