Opening Plenary

Day one of the Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit (AFSHS) brought together over 4,000 stakeholders including key government officials, Regional Economic Blocs, private organizations and other key stakeholders to evaluate the state of Africa’s fertilizer use and soil health, while reviewing the progress made since the 2006 Abuja declaration, which aimed to boost fertilizer Growth.

It was established that despite multiple efforts, Africa falls short of the Abuja declaration targets. Fertilizer consumption in Africa has only risen from 8kg/ha to below 25 kg/ha since 2006, far below the 50kg/ha target.

Opening the event was  H.E. Amb. Joseffa Leonel Correia Sacko, AU commissioner for agriculture, rural development, blue economy and sustainable environment acknowledged that African soils have reached a tipping point with low levels of soil organic matter and nutrient stocks, limiting the potential benefits of inorganic fertilizer and plant genetic improvements for smallholder farmers. The Agenda on African soil Health is a matter of urgency and collaborative actions must be taken.

H.E. Dr. Musalia Mudavadi, Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs reiterated some of the key commitments and declarations by the Heads of State and Government to drive agricultural productivity to improve food and nutrition security.

Key among these commitments is the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa, which was endorsed at the second ordinary Assembly of the African Union in July 2003 in Maputo. The Declaration contained several important decisions but prominent among them was the commitment to the allocation of at least 10 percent of National budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implementation within five years.

AGRA’s  Partner Statement

Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, reaffirmed AGRA’s role in the Fertiliser and Soil Health Summit.

Highlighting the significance of fertiliser use, Dr. Kalibata pointed out countries that are making notable strides in agriculture through effective fertiliser utilisation. Drawing from studies conducted in Malawi and Ethiopia, she emphasised the correlation between soil composition and human nutrition. The presence of essential nutrients like zinc in the soil directly influences the nutritional value of produce, underlining the critical importance of soil health for overall nutrition.

Dr. Kalibata presented two key recommendations to address soil health challenges:

  1. She emphasised the importance of land tenure in soil health management, particularly for women and young farmers entering the agricultural sector.
  2. She advocated for subsidies that can be flexibly allocated by farmers based on their specific needs, thereby maximising their effectiveness.

Moreover, she underscored the necessity of investing in research capacity, especially in local communities, to shape the future of food systems effectively.

In her remarks, Dr. Kalibata emphasised the indispensable role of fertilisers in ensuring food security. While cautioning against improper fertiliser use, she called for unapologetic action to propel fertiliser utilisation forward, emphasising the need for a balanced approach to meet the world’s nutritional needs.

AGRA at The Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit

Facilitating Countries’ Cross Learning Agenda: Post-Summit Actions following the Abuja Declaration.

Today’s events saw AGRA spearhead two significant side events: “Facilitating Countries’ Cross Learning Agenda: Post-Summit Action” and “Managing Degraded Soils for Reclaiming Livelihoods in Africa.”

During these sessions, Prof Jean Jacques Muhinda, Regional Manager at AGRA, highlighted the crucial need for mainstream decision-making to address the pressing issue of soil health. Drawing upon insights shared by ministers of agriculture from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Ghana, Prof Muhinda emphasised the importance of deliberate policy decisions to increase fertiliser usage, in alignment with CAADP and Malabo frameworks. He stressed that effective policy implementation and intentional decision-making are pivotal in the battle for soil health.

Additionally, the discussions shed light on the agricultural practices in France over the past 60 to 70 years. It was noted that despite using the same land, France has managed to feed three times its current population. This has been attributed to the strategic use of nitrogen and organic fertilizers in farming, underlining the transformative impact of innovative agricultural approaches on productivity and sustainability.

‘Dakar 2 High-Level Event on the State of Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health’

In a high-level discussion which featured Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the spotlight was on Africa’s critical issue of fertilizer and soil health. Shockingly, some African countries are losing up to 33 million tons of soil annually, painting a grim picture of the continent’s agricultural landscape.

Dr. Kalibata underscored the urgent need for Africa to become self-sufficient in revitalising its soil health, stressing the importance of research and studies to identify gaps and formulate effective strategies. She cited AGRA’s Sustainable Farming program as a case study, showcasing progress in soil regeneration across market countries through regenerative agriculture practices.

It was established that to create such a narrative of self-sufficiency, it is essential for the 10-year Action Plan to be effective, to enable other countries to confidently partner with Africa in improving its agricultural practices due to existing data and facts.

The plan’s success will provide essential data and facts, empowering African nations to forge partnerships with other countries for agricultural improvement.

Furthermore, Africa still struggles to attain the targets set out in the 2006 Abuja Declaration. To optimise soil health and achieve maximum yields, farmers require training on the judicious use of organic fertilisers.

Drawing lessons from initiatives like Dakar 1, it was highlighted that African leaders must mobilise resources to invest in domestic fertiliser production. The continent already boasts innovative solutions and incentives tailored to fertiliser production, signalling a shift away from conventional methods.

In essence, Africa stands at a crossroads in its agricultural journey, with soil health emerging as a paramount concern. With concerted efforts, strategic investments, and a unified narrative, the continent can embark on a transformative path towards sustainable agricultural practices, ensuring food security and prosperity for generations to come.

Towards Better Soil Health: Incentives for Youth Enterprise in Production and Distribution of Organic and Inorganic Fertiliser.

This youth-led and youth-centred discussion explored the pivotal role of the youth in shaping the future of farming and development.

Dr. Janet Ademe, Head of Rural Development Division at the African Union Commission, underscored this imperative, stating, “CAYAC stands committed to empowering the youth in sustainable farming and development. Investing in our youth is investing in the future of agriculture.”

This commitment to youth empowerment is echoed by Abednego Mavuthu Kiwia, Program Officer at AGRA, who emphasised the importance of advancing youth-led fertiliser businesses. Key priorities include exploring supply opportunities for both organic and inorganic fertilisers, strengthening delivery capacities of youth enterprises, engaging centres of excellence in training programs, mobilising resources, and advocating for supportive policy environments. These concerted efforts aim to not only empower young entrepreneurs but also foster sustainable agricultural practices, ensuring a resilient and prosperous agricultural sector.

However, realising the full potential of youth entrepreneurship in agriculture requires a multifaceted approach. As highlighted by Abednego, youth entrepreneurship thrives on finance, support, and capacity building, coupled with creativity and resilience from the young farmers themselves. It’s not merely about providing resources but also about equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in an ever-evolving industry.

Central to this approach is the notion of capacity building. By investing in the education and training of young farmers, we can equip them with the technical expertise needed to enhance soil health and adopt sustainable agricultural practices. This includes providing agricultural knowledge, imparting skills in production and fertilisation techniques, and fostering supportive policy frameworks that incentivize environmentally friendly farming practices.