Henk van Duijn, President and CEO of the International Fertilizer Development Center, visited Togo from May 29 to June 3 as part of his tour of the 25 countries where the organization has a presence. Togo is the eighth country he has visited, following Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Ghana, and Nigeria.
During his visit, van Duijn took part in the High-Level Roundtable on Fertilizers: Investing in the Future by Improving Soil Health, held May 30-31 in Lomé. He also engaged in discussions with current and prospective partners and met with the IFDC team working in Lomé.
“It is important to take into account the quality of fertilizers, to examine the rigor of the regulations on fertilizers, and to train agricultural producers on the proper use of fertilizers.”Henk van Duijn, IFDC President & CEO
Van Duijn gave a presentation at the roundtable on the fertilizer sector situation and introduced the Roadmap on Fertilizers and Soil Health in West Africa and the Sahel. The presentation was greatly appreciated by participants and the media alike.
In an interview, van Duijn said, “In the current context, it is important to take into account the quality of fertilizers, to examine the rigor of the regulations on fertilizers, and to train agricultural producers on the proper use of fertilizers, considering not only the quality, but also the quantity to be applied, as well as when and where it should be used.”
IFDC Vice President of Programs Dr. Oumou Camara then made a notable contribution during the session on Sectoral Policies and Regulatory Framework for the Promotion of Private Investment in the Fertilizer Sector and Market Development. Camara presented the four priority actions in the roadmap for strengthening sectoral policies and the policy and regulatory framework to promote investment and strengthen the fertilizer market.
Van Duijn, Camara, the directors of the Enabling Impact, Soil Health and Agricultural Productivity, and Industries and Partnerships departments, the directors of IFDC country offices in West Africa, and other IFDC staff all actively contributed to the deliberations and other roundtable activities, alongside the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) team and 23 ministers of agriculture and finance. The roundtable ended on a positive note, with validation of the roadmap and the Lomé Declaration by the Heads of State, three of whom were in attendance.
On the sidelines of the roundtable, van Duijn had several informal meetings that raised hopes for future partnerships for IFDC. Discussions were held with representatives of AGRA, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), World Bank, ECOWAS, the French Development Agency (AFD), the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (ARAA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Upon arrival at the IFDC office in Lomé, van Duijn was greeted by his cheerful colleagues. In a message to the team, he stated, “I am here to meet and talk with you because you are very important for IFDC. Each staff member has a very specific and essential role to play in fulfilling the objectives of IFDC and reaching food security in Africa. Together, we can achieve that.”
While in Lomé, the president also attended a meeting with a team from AFD. In this meeting, the CEO explained the mission and strategy of IFDC, offering the historical background of the organization since its establishment in 1974.
Accompanied by Patrice Annequin, Chief of Party of the EnGRAIS project, and Abalo Adodo, Benin Country Director, van Duijn described IFDC’s work in investing in soil health and supporting local economic development by showcasing the work of 2SCALE, the EnGRAIS project, and AfricaFertilizer (AFO). Through these initiatives, IFDC facilitates fertilizer policy reform and co-invests with and builds the capacity of local businesses, including smallholder farmers.
At an official meeting with the Togo Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Rural Development, His Excellency Antoine Lekpa Gbegbeni welcomed the IFDC President and CEO and his delegation to the ministry. Van Duijn introduced Adodo Abalo, the new IFDC Country Director for Benin and Togo, and Rob Groot, former IFDC Director of Africa Operations and current advisor to the organization. The meeting centered on how IFDC can support Togo in setting its action plan in relation to the roadmap validated at the roundtable.
“IFDC recognizes that when you invest in soil health through the local agriculture sector, farmers become motivated to preserve their soil and the environment. Local communities need to see incentives for soil conservation and environmental protection,” van Duijn explained.
Gbegbeni appreciated learning about IFDC’s global work, especially what has been done in Togo. His Excellency stated that IFDC should collaborate with the country to develop agricultural activities and investments in accordance with the Lomé Declaration on quality fertilizer development and soil health.
The Minister recalled the speech of President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo during the closing session of the roundtable: “This visit to the IFDC office in Togo is a return to the beginning. Togo is the gate through which IFDC entered Africa. In fact, it is the country where IFDC started its work in Africa and established its first office in Africa in 1987.”