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A Key Challenge and “Urgent” Need to Replenish the Arable Soils of Africa!

At this Science to Action Day at COP 22, Marrakech, Ms Charlotte Hebebrand, Director General – International Fertilizer Association (IFA), speaks on Climate-Smart Agriculture ~ What Role for Fertilisers?

The presentation opened with a summary on the state of African soils by highlighting key issues, viz; 75% of arable land in sub-Saharan Africa is degraded (IPNI 2016 ipni.net/article/IPNI-3447), Deteriorating soil fertility, Nutrient mining, Low crop yields resulting in poverty and Environmental degradation.
She speaks about the 2006 Abuja Fertilizer Summit, a forward-looking event that talked about the need for fertilisers to replenish the soils, to provide more food security and to increase incomes across Africa. The Abuja Declaration was signed by 53 African Agriculture ministers which intended to accelerate the access of farmers to fertilisers and increase the average use per hectare from 8 kg/ha to 50 kg/ha by 2015.

The conclusion of the 2015 Paris Agreement resulted in the inclusion of Food Security in the Paris Agreement text and all African countries raised Agriculture in their INDC adaptation chapter (as per AAA Initiative), with fertilisers featuring quite prominently in some of the INDCs, with regard to mitigation. In terms of some of the sub-Saharan agricultural inputs in their NDC’s, a question begs to be asked: Are environmental ministries coordinating with agricultural ministries in these countries?

With a high-level focus being placed on Africa and Food security by the Moroccan government, through the AAA Initiative, mainly for adaptation, it also focuses to a large extent on Climate Smart Agriculture, which also includes mitigation and the ongoing need to focus on food security and agricultural productivity. Hebebrand highlights the key roles of fertilisers in Climate-Smart agriculture, viz; Global food security, Fertilisers crucial for adaptation, i.e. Resilience in crops, Enhanced water use efficiency and the reduction of GHGs, etc.

Hebebrand then focuses on ‘Nutrient Use Efficiency’, Fertilizer Best Management Practises, Reducing GHGs and Policy Options for Africa, all in terms of increasing yields on arable land in Africa, for the balance of this presentation.

The key challenge for Africa will be to ‘increase yields’ and at the same time to make sure that ‘Nutrient Use Efficiency’ remains optimal!

Q&A was opened to the floor thereafter.

Links:
IFA Director General fertilizer.org//En/About_IFA/IFA_Structure/IFA_Director_General_Charlotte_Hebebrand.aspx
IFA Knowledge Resources fertilizer.org/AboutFertilizers

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