Q&A: Mhamed Ibnabdeljalil, OCP

Q&A: Mhamed Ibnabdeljalil, OCP
  • PublishedOctober 21, 2013

The OCP group in Morocco is one of the world’s biggest producers of phosphates, a key ingredient for fertilisers. Mhamed Ibnabdeljalil, vice president for sales and raw materials procurement, tells us the role science can play in changing the agricultural landscape in Africa.

How important is the role of science in developing Africa’s agricultural sector?

Science and innovation are crucial to the agricultural sector and especially for Africa, which suffers from low yields. Science and innovation can help farmers by developing new seed varieties, creating new cropping techniques, and also developing adapted fertilizers to satisfy Africa’s specific soil characteristics and crop needs. OCP has developed and launched new fertilizer products specifically adapted to Africa’s needs. Those new products are the result of extensive research on agronomy, crop characteristics and farmer needs.

The OCP has been a strong advocate of South-South partnerships. Is this becoming a reality and what would you like to see happen to enhance cooperation between African companies, governments and institutions?

Starting from 2006, OCP developed partnerships with African companies on fertilizer distribution. Africa’s share in OCP’s portfolio grew in a spectacular way to reach in 2012 12% of OCP fertilizer sales. This number is expected to grow even more thanks to our strategy that focuses on working with local partners to develop the market.

The theme of this year’s AGRF is scaling up solutions. What do you see is needed to fast track growth and developments in agriculture in Africa. Are we on the right path or is there more that can and should be done; if so where and what?

Many important efforts exist to develop African agriculture, including the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.  Yet, still more needs to be done. Average fertilizer use in Africa is around 10kg/ha whereas the minimum to give back to the soil its nutrients, and therefore increase yields sustainably, is 25kg/ha.

This shows that more should be done to encourage and support farmers. Each country in Africa has its own specificities and needs to be thought of separately. OCP is convinced that we will not be able to increase yields if we don’t develop more extension services for farmers in order to educate them and show the best agricultural practices. As a fertilizer company, it’s our duty also to put in the market adapted formulas for specific soils and specific crops, and to work with our partners to guaranty that this product would be available for the farmer in the right time and with all training needed to maximize the benefit of using it.

What new developments or innovations has the OCP group come up with targeting the African market?

OCP has developed and launched new fertilizer products  specifically adapted to Africa’s needs, which we call  “Performance Phosphate Products”, or PPPs. Those new products are the result of extensive research on  agronomy, crop characteristics and farmer needs. We have one product we have developed to satisfy the needs of specific crops such as cotton, maize and cocoa, and which are specific to acidic soils. Other fertilisers of this type are also being developed for saline and sandy soils. We also have developed high value fertilisers enhanced with sulphur and micro-nutrients like boron and zinc to remedy soil deficiencies in many regions of the world, including in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We have also developed soluble fertilizers. Because of the increasing water stress in many regions of the world, many countries are encouraging farmers to move to micro-irrigation systems. OCP is developing high-precision fertilizers, completely water soluble and targeting irrigated crops. Lastly we have developed PPP animal feeds, which are specific formulas to give high quality phosphorus sources for breeding animals.

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New African

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