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May 27, 2024

AFSH: African Ministers of Agriculture Advocate  Access to  Affordable Fertiliser for Food Security

African ministers of agriculture gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, for the second Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health (AFSH) summit from May 7-9, 2024, advocating for affordable access to fertilisers to enhance food security and improve soil health across the continent.

The summit, held under the theme “Listen to the Soil,” was presided over by Kenya’s President, William Ruto and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat. This marked the first time the summit had taken place in 18 years since its last edition in Nigeria.

The summit commenced with a ministerial session on Day One and concluded with a high-level meeting where the Nairobi Declaration was signed, outlining a 10-year action plan for improving fertiliser use and soil health in Africa.

Led by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Mithika Linturi, the ministers expressed concern about the decline in soil quality across Africa, with some regions experiencing up to 65 percent degradation due to nutrient depletion and unsustainable farming practices exacerbated by the high cost of fertilizers.

Linturi emphasized the urgent need for affordable fertilizers to reverse these trends and increase food production, especially in light of climate change’s impact on agricultural outputs. He highlighted the importance of increasing soil health, particularly as climate change undermines food production gains.

Experts noted significant disparities in fertilizer use across Africa, with Egypt using about 400 kilograms per hectare, while countries like South Sudan and the Central African Republic use as little as 0.02 kg and 0.23 kg per hectare, respectively. Despite government subsidies in many African countries, the average use still falls well below the global average of about 120 kg per hectare.

Linturi pointed out the negative impacts of land and soil degradation, advocating for a collective approach to achieving food security by enhancing soil health, particularly in countries with limited arable land like Kenya.

He emphasized the importance of developing country-specific Soil Fertility Replenishment Strategies to ensure balanced nutrient fertilization and promote best practices in soil management, advocating for the use of both organic and inorganic fertilizers.

Ministers from across the continent shared case studies of soil degradation and fertilizer use in their respective countries, emphasizing the need for sustained action in pursuit of food and nutritional security in Africa.

The summit brought together over 2,000 stakeholders from the agriculture sector, including African Heads of State, high-ranking government officials, policymakers, private-sector players, civil society organizations, farmer organizations, development agencies, NGOs, scholars, scientists, and representatives of leading donor organizations.

The African Development Bank expressed willingness to explore areas of cooperation and partnerships in fertilizer financing across the continent and advocated for agritech scaling to address food production challenges.

Furthermore, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research called for the rapid doubling of food production to meet the demands of the continent’s growing population.

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