Feeding the world’s growing population
New Zealand’s reputation as a quality food producer is growing.
The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand promotes and encourages responsible and scientifically-based nutrient management.
“There is no question that New Zealand’s primary industry needs phosphate fertiliser,” says Dr Vera Power, Chief Executive, Fertiliser Association of New Zealand.
“Without it, New Zealand rural production would fall at least 50% which equates to a $10 billion per year hit to the economy. Over 75% of the known world’s reserves of phosphate rock are in Morocco and Western Sahara. And the rock from PhosBoucraa mine in Western Sahara is especially useful for New Zealand conditions because of its physical properties.”
The Fertiliser Association continues to assess and monitor the issue. “We recognise that the situation poses complex legal and ethical questions. However, we are confident that domestic and international law currently permits the import of phosphate rock sourced from Western Sahara. Stopping trade is unlikely to resolve the conflict – indeed, economic deprivation would likely create less stability and increased tensions in the region.”
PhosBoucraa is the largest employer in Western Sahara and more than two thirds of the 2,300 employees are local to the area.
“It’s important that the people of Western Sahara benefit from the trade. Both Ravensdown and Ballance are emphatic about that. Refusing to buy OCP’s phosphate would affect the livelihoods of many local families in Western Sahara.
“Furthermore, OCP invests significantly in community and social wellbeing, which is benefitting the locals. This has included building a first-class primary school, as well as developing a dairy cooperative with processing facilities, a plant trial station looking at species that are salt resistant with soil testing facilities and a camel breeding programme.
“We would very much like to see a timely solution to the territorial dispute in Western Sahara, but it is only the UN Security Council that can find a lasting resolution to the political situation. We do not believe there is sufficient justification for pre-emptive action by the industry, such as terminating our contracts for supply. The benefits to both New Zealand’s agricultural sector and the local inhabitants of Western Sahara are too great.”