The Executive Director of the Tanzania Fertilizer Regulatory Authority (TFRA) Stephan Ngailo has recently announced the government’s plan to ensure that fertilizers are available throughout…
The use of fertilizers in Tanzania is extremely low and remains below recommended rates, and low-input and rain-fed subsistence farming dominates Tanzania’s agriculture, contributing to poor crop yields.
Primary fertilizers used in Tanzania include urea, and the blends Di Ammonium Phosphate (DAP), calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), and nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium fertilizer (NPK).
While the official government recommendation for one acre of maize production is 50 kg of urea and 50 kg of DAP, farmers on average apply fewer than nine kilograms of fertilizer per acre.
High prices inhibit access to fertilizers by small scale farmers (SSF). More than 90% of all fertilizers used in the country are imported and their price is high.
This is why the Ministry of Agriculture of Tanzania introduced in 2017 the fertilizer bulk procurement system (FBPS) to lower retail prices and enhance access to and increasing the use of fertilizers.
Through these regulations, all importers submit their requirements to TFRA. A tender is announced and one prequalified successful bidder imports all the fertilizer on behalf of others using his own source of funds.
The prices of fertilizers for farmers fell by 40% and their use increased by 69%, from 302,450 tons season 2015/16 up to 435,178.48 tons in 2017/18.
Another challenge to the use of fertilizers is their perceived quality. According to the study titled “Misperceived Quality: Fertilizer in Tanzania”, Tanzanian farmers suspect that available fertilizers are often adulterated, but these concerns are not backed by reliable evidence.
Often Tanzanians believe that fertilizers available in local shops are substandard, and such concerns are reinforced by stories in popular newspapers. Thus farmers believe the quality of fertilizer on the market is poor.
The authors of the study surveyed all fertilizer sellers in Morogoro Region, Tanzania, and tested 633 samples of their fertilizer.
They found that fertilizers meet nutrient standards but also found evidence of a quality inference problem in the market: 25% of fertilizer has deteriorated in observable ways.
Farmers rely on these observable attributes to (incorrectly) assess unobservable nutrient quality, and this misperception likely reduces fertilizers use.
Consistent with expectations of low quality, the study found that Tanzanian farmers are willing to pay considerably less for untested fertilizers in the market than they are for lab-certified fertilizers.
In 2020, URALKALI, one of the leading global producers of potash fertilizers, announced its support to the Action Africa: Thriving Farms, Thriving Future initiative, backed by the UN World Food Programme, to provide local agricultural producers with mineral fertilizers and relevant digital solutions and information and agrochemical support to ensure food security amidst the global economic crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, URALKALI aims to provide comprehensive support to farmers in Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria.”