AGRA Board Chairman, H.E Hailemariam Desalegn

On the third and last day of the summit, AGRA Board Chair His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn joined several Heads of State to advocate for practical measures that safeguard the health of African soils is key. He emphasised to the attendees the necessity of soil preservation, citing its dual role in improving food security and guaranteeing environmental sustainability.

See a recap of his remarks below;

H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn addressed the various Heads of State present during the first session of the last day of the Summit. He began by emphasising that more was needed to sustain Africa’s growing population and combat climate change.

He raised a challenge on how to significantly boost the yields of crops while conserving soil health and reducing environmental impact. Ethiopia’s Sustainable Land Management Program served as a beacon of hope, demonstrating the transformative effect of investing in soil regeneration and watershed management. With reduced soil loss and greater crop yields, the initiative demonstrates the value of focused interventions.

Recognizing the need for data-driven solutions, Ethiopia’s Soil Information System highlighted the importance of extensive soil analysis. By providing district-level soil fertility maps and targeted fertilizer recommendations, the initiative has enabled farmers to make better-educated decisions, optimising agricultural potential.

Addressing the need for fresh policy prescriptions, he advocated for targeted incentives based on the most frequently utilised nutrients in specific regions, intending to lower overall subsidy costs. These efforts constitute a change from the business-as-usual norm, providing promising solutions for agricultural sustainability.

He also urged African leaders to commit to supporting the African Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit by lobbying for technical, political, and financial support to drive long-term change. By adopting the African Fertilizer and Soil Health 10-Year Action Plan, he called for collaboration to ensure that every African has access to nutritious food and that African soils are sustainable for current and future generations.

Africa’s agricultural future depends on sustainable growth, collaboration, and innovative solutions. Africa can realise its agricultural potential by prioritizing soil health, encouraging innovation, and building global partnerships while ensuring food security and environmental sustainability for future generations,” he noted.

Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACs)

In a move to bolster Africa’s agricultural resilience, AGRA has deepened its commitment to advancing the vision for Adapted Crops and Soils, or VACs. This strategic commitment, announced in collaboration with the U.S. Special Envoy Cary Fowler and the broader VACs coalition, marks a pivotal moment in the continent’s pursuit of sustainable food systems.

AGRA’s renewed focus on VACs aligns with the Soils Initiative for Africa and the African Fertilizer and Soil Health Action Plan, signaling a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges of climate change and food security. By championing diverse, nutritious, and climate-adapted crops cultivated in healthy soils, AGRA aims to build resilient food systems that can withstand the impacts of a changing climate.

Building upon its existing groundwork and in-country partner networks, AGRA is poised to scale up efforts in advancing VACs across Africa. AGRA has committed to integrating VACs into the Africa Food Systems forum, fostering dialogue and collaboration on sustainable agricultural practices.

Furthermore, AGRA is committed to leveraging its community and partnerships to promote VACs-aligned initiatives and investment opportunities. AGRA will also work with government partners to develop and implement actionable policy recommendations that advance this shared vision.

Dr Kalibata with US Special Envoy on Global Food Security, Cary Fowler at KICC before the announcement of VACS.

A Summary of the Nairobi Declaration

As the summit came to a close, the importance of the 10-year Action Plan became more evident. It was discovered that due to decades of continuous soil nutrient mining and soil aging, Africa’s soils, which are among the oldest in the world, have become the poorest. An estimated more than $4 billion in soil nutrients is lost each year, putting Africa’s ability to feed itself in danger. However, many African farmers still do not have access to fertilizers or cannot afford the inputs required to bring life back into their soils and halt the downward spiral of environmental deterioration. 

The Action Plan “will mark a pivotal stride towards a green revolution across Africa, laying the groundwork for an agricultural renaissance.

The Action Plan will be guided by 5 key action points that will serve as the roadmap for transformative change. The Nairobi Declaration was a result of discussions among various stakeholders, including policymakers, scientists, farmers and private-sector representatives to declare:

  • Endorsement of Fertiliser and Soil Health Action Plan & the Soil Initiative for Africa Framework as key guiding documents.
  • Commitment to tripling domestic production and distribution of both organic and inorganic fertilizers, ensuring they reach 70% of small-holder farmers across the continent.
  • Commitment to reversing land degradation and restoring soil health on at least 30% of degraded soil by 2033.
  • Commitment to fully operationalise the Africa Fertiliser Financing Mechanism.
  • Private sector to increase investments in Africa’s fertilizer industry and promote sustainable soil management practices.
  • Our governments to create an enabling environment to attract more private-sector investments
  • African Union Commission and African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) to support Member States to implement the commitments we made in the Nairobi Declaration
  • Development partners to support governments and regional economic communities in adopting best practices in fertilizer use and soil management.
  • Heads of State and Government to collaborate closely in implementing the endorsed 10-year action plan for sustainable soil health at the domestic level

This declaration will address key topics including soil nutrient management, the impact of climate change, regenerative methods, and the implementation of African leaders’ past agreements to increase agricultural production.

Musa Faki, AUC Chairperson and Kenya President Dr William Ruto at KICC during Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit

While giving remarks following the declaration, AGRA’s Director of Climate Change, Sustainable Productivity and Resilience Dr. Tilahun Amede stated that the Action Plan has been supported by AGRA who brought the technocrats together, set the agenda, drafted the action plans, which is now declared in the summit.