New York: Morocco organizes high-level meeting on food security in Africa


The Moroccan Mission to the United Nations in New York and the OCP Group jointly organized a high-level event on food security in Africa, within the framework of the High-level Political Forum of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on sustainable development, which is being held in the American metropolis from July 8 to 17.

Held under the theme “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Action: Shaping the Africa We Want. Effective Partnerships to Eradicate Poverty, Build Food Sovereignty and Mitigate Climate Change”, the meeting was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Kenya.

The event was opened by introductory remarks by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Morocco’s Ambassador to the UN Omar Hilale, as well as a presentation by OCP Group Chairman and CEO Mostafa Terrab.

The meeting was also attended by Messrs. Tesfaye Yilma Sabo, Ernest Rwamucyo, Syndoph Endoni, Njambi Kinyungu, respectively Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives of Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria and Kenya to the UN, the Executive Director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Ismahane Elouafi, Prof. Daniel Nahon, Founder of the European Centre for Research and Education in Environmental Geosciences (CEREGE), as well as other senior UN officials, Ambassadors of member countries to the UN and representatives of international organizations and media accredited to the United Nations.

This initiative reflects the Kingdom of Morocco’s firm attachment to its African depth and its unwavering commitment, under the clear-sighted leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, to the co-development and prosperity of Africa within the framework of mutually beneficial South-South cooperation.

In his opening statement, Mr. Hilale stressed that the Kingdom’s commitment to eliminating hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture stems from a collective awareness of the challenge of food security in the world in general and on the African continent in particular, noting that this is why His Majesty the King has placed food security at the heart of His strategic priorities for Africa.

Mr. Hilale recalled that Morocco has always invested in agriculture, particularly through South-South cooperation in Africa, which has more than half of the world’s uncultivated arable land, specifying that the Kingdom has undertaken to share its experience and good practices with brotherly African countries.

This action is supported by the recommendations of the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit, which calls for strengthening partnerships and encouraging public and private investments to unlock the full potential of sustainable agriculture, the ambassador continued.

He noted that it is in this context that the multidimensional strategy of the OCP Group on the African continent is part of, noting that through this presence, the Moroccan Group is today the main global supplier of phosphate products in all its forms, but also the main African partner and provider of expertise in agriculture.

Abounding in the same sense, Mr. Terrab immediately stressed that Africa is living to the rhythm of a real “green revolution”, saying he was convinced that the accelerator of this “revolution” will be the continent’s capacity to produce its own fertilizers by relying on its abundant natural resources.

The Chairman and CEO of the OCP Group noted in this regard that while arable land per capita in the world is decreasing, 60% of this uncultivated arable land on the planet is located in Africa, deeming it necessary to change perception when it comes to Africa’s role in food security.

“Africa is going to have to play a positive role globally in terms of food security,” he said, explaining that this security depends on soil and plant nutrition. “Without fertilizers, we will only be able to produce half of the food we produce today,” he said.

Asked why Africa does not use enough fertilizers, Mr. Terrab noted that the continent is the largest exporter of natural resources that produce fertilizers, while Africa was also a “net importer” of finished fertilizers.

“As a result, the African farmer has had the fundamental problem of having fertilizers that sometimes cost two to three times the price of fertilizers elsewhere, even if these fertilizers were manufactured from the continent’s own natural resources,” he observed.

Mr. Terrab indicated that this situation changed when the OCP Group deployed its multidimensional strategy and decided to produce fertilizers in Africa, allocating a significant quantity of these fertilizers to the countries of the continent. Now, 65% of the fertilizers used in Africa are manufactured on the continent, he welcomed.

The CEO of the OCP Group also returned to the evolution of the Moroccan Group since it committed massive investments in the production of fertilizers, emphasizing that the OCP Group reached more than 30% of global market share in the production of fertilizers.

This performance has enabled the Group to rise to first place in terms of fertilizer production, he said, noting that OCP Group now has a capacity of 15 million tons and has gained a significant share of the finished fertilizer market worldwide.

For Africa to achieve food security, Terrab said, it is important to produce its own fertilizers, use appropriate fertilizers to boost productivity, contribute to achieving SDG 13 on climate action, and make soil health and nutrition affordable for smallholder farmers.

Speaking on this occasion, the UN Deputy Secretary-General welcomed the investments made by Morocco to develop the agricultural sector, through the promotion of local production and the establishment of political frameworks that catalyze the development of sustainable and resilient food systems.

This dynamic has created jobs and strengthened the role of women in Moroccan society, she said, noting that sustainable food systems “concern not only those who consume, but also those who manage and harvest, from production to the table.”

The UN official also noted that Africa is a region with enormous potential, representing 60% of the planet’s arable land, believing that it is possible to overcome food insecurity and develop sustainable agricultural practices.

She stressed the importance of leveraging partnerships to achieve the vision of the continent enshrined in Africa’s Agenda 2063, calling for delivering on the promise not only for the SDGs and their acceleration, but for the Africa that Africans want.

For his part, the permanent representative of Rwanda, Ernest Rwamucyo, welcomed the partnership uniting his country with Morocco in the agricultural sector through the OCP Group.

He stressed that cooperation with the Kingdom and the OCP Group has been “instrumental” in the process of transforming the agricultural sector in Rwanda, adding that effective partnerships remain important to accelerate efforts to achieve the SDGs.

For his part, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Ambassador Syndoph Endoni, welcomed the cooperation between his country and the OCP Group which aims to ensure food security in sub-Saharan Africa, including through the establishment of three fertilizer blending plants in Nigeria.

These initiatives of the Moroccan Group are likely to significantly increase the supply of fertilizers to Nigeria and neighboring countries, he stressed.

He also recalled the signing between Morocco and Nigeria of four memoranda of understanding for the construction of a 7,000 km gas pipeline, which should benefit several countries on the continent, noting that this project will boost energy production in the region and beyond.

The same story was echoed by the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia, Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma Sabo, who highlighted the contribution of the OCP Group to improving agricultural productivity in Africa.

The representative of the Permanent Mission of Kenya to the UN, for her part, said she appreciated the work accomplished by the OCP Group in this country, particularly through the promotion of new nutrient management practices, capacity building of farmers through good agronomic and soil health practices, and climate-smart agriculture.

Abounding in the same sense, the representative of Côte d’Ivoire emphasized the importance of robust partnerships such as those linking the OCP Group to African countries, believing that through such initiatives, Africa would be able to ensure its food sovereignty and progress towards a more sustainable and inclusive future.

Until 17 July, the High-level Forum on Sustainable Development will review progress towards Goal 1 on ending poverty, Goal 2 on zero hunger, Goal 13 on climate action, Goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies and Goal 17 on strengthening the means of implementation.

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