One of Russia’s largest phosphate-based fertilizers producers, PhosaAgro, has launched a digital education platform for African farmers amid calls by African heads of state for President Putin’s government to transfer agricultural technology.
Mikhail Sterkin, PhosAgro’s Deputy CEO for Sales, Marketing and Logistics, made the announcement at the on-going second Russia–Africa Summit and Economic and Humanitarian Forum in St Petersburg, Russia, on Friday.
Called Pro Agro Lectorium, the platform is expected to provide online lectures on a variety of topics. This included sustainable agriculture, the basics of plant nutrition, and the proper use of mineral fertilizers for achieving food security, and for producing crops with the qualities consumers are looking for.
The lecturers include experts from PhosAgro, leading scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian State Agrarian University – Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy and other agricultural universities; as well as top managers and experts from major agricultural companies from around the world.
“Africa is the fastest-growing continent in the world today. Its population is going to double by 2050, when a quarter of the planet’s inhabitants will call Africa home. To feed this rapidly
growing population, the countries on the continent need to create a sustainable, high-yield agricultural sector right now. As the largest Russian supplier of fertilizers to Africa – accounting for 33% of Russia’s total fertilizer exports to the continent – we are aware that it will be impossible to incorporate innovations in Africa without the support of local experts,” Sterkin.
He said PhosAgro has taken the opportunity provided by the Russia–Africa Summit to launch its Pro Agro Lectorium educational platform.
“The platform will enable African farmers to access the accumulated knowledge of PhosAgro experts, Russian scientists, top managers and experts from leading agribusinesses on their phones or other devices. We believe that this service will be a useful tool in shaping a sustainable model of modern agriculture in Africa and ensuring the continent’s food security.”
According to the company’s website, PhosAgro is one of the world’s leading producers of mineral phosphorous fertilizers and of high-grade apatite concentrate grading 39% P2O5 and higher.
Its fertilisers are regarded as highly effective, ensuring the improved quality of agricultural produce. The website says PhosAgro Group is the largest manufacturer of phosphate-based fertilisers in Europe (by total capacity of DAP/MAP/NP/NPK/NPS production), the largest producer of phosphite grading 39% P2O5 in the world and one of the leading global producers of ammonium and diammonium phosphate.
The company’s main products, including phosphite, 57 grades of fertilizer, phosphate feed, ammonium, and sodium tripolyphosphate, are used in around 100 countries on all inhabited continents, the website added.
African Times and other African journalists toured one of the PhosAgro’s branches at Volkhov, about 200 kilometres north of St Petersburg, on the eve of the Russia-Africa Summit. Thousands of tons of different fertilizers were being processed and packaged by staff at the factory.
Alexander Sharabaika, PhosAgro’s Deputy General Director For Finance and International Projects, said PhosAgro supplied fertilizers to 23 African countries. South Africa, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Tanzania were the company’s top five clients in the continent, he said.
“We work together with African countries including in the development of agricultural science,” Sharabaika said.
The Russian Fertilizers Producers Association (RFPA), which represents the majority of the country’s fertilizer producers, said it would invest R20 billion roubles (about 4 billion US dollars) in fertilizer production in Africa.
“Our programme is to increase the knowledge of the farmers in the region of Africa to increase the technological or knowledge increase in Africa. We are reviewing the possibility of investing in technical skills due to the current situation [US sanctions]. We need not only to improve the products, but also technical due to the increase in the fertilizers produced since 2018,” said Maxim Kuznetsov, the Executive Director of the Russian Fertilizers Producers Association.
Kuznetsov said RFPA’s members would continue to supply fertilizers to Africa and other world markers despite the challenges posed by the US sanctions on Russia.
PhosAgro’s Timur Belov agreed: “We do not see any serious issues with the delivery of fertilizers to Africa.”
Addressing the Russia-Africa Summit on Thursday, Putin said Russia was convinced that providing Africa’s agricultural technology was the best way to ensure food security on the continent.
“In principle, we are convinced that with the application of appropriate agricultural technologies and the proper organization of agricultural production, Africa in the future can not only feed itself, ensure its own food security, but also become an exporter of various types of food. And from Russia there will be only support, I assure you,” Putin said.
He said that African leaders emphasized during bilateral meetings that they had the opportunity to produce food, all they needed were technologies and appropriate support.
“For its part, Russia is ready to share its expertise in the field of agricultural production with African countries and to assist in the introduction of the most advanced technologies,” he reiterated.