AGRA, SAGCOT, CIMMYT, others To Spotlight Africa Efforts to Combat Soil Degradation at AU Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit

By Team

In a side event at the upcoming Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit, set for May 7th, 2024, in Nairobi, stakeholders from across Africa and the globe will gather to address the pressing issues of soil degradation and acidity that threaten the continent’s agricultural productivity and food security. This session, “Managing Degraded Soils for Reclaiming Livelihoods in Africa: An Actionable Framework for Guiding Fertilizer and Soil Health Investments at Scale,” promises a comprehensive look at actionable strategies and innovations in soil health management.

Collaborative Efforts to Revitalize African Soil

Co-organized by a consortium of influential organizations, including AGRA, ECOWAS, EAC, CIMMYT, APNI, research institutes from Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Tanzania, and industry stakeholders like Yara and SAGCOT, the event is poised to be a cornerstone for future soil health initiatives. The session will occur at the Kenya International Conference Centre, which hosts significant international discussions.

Groundbreaking Discussions

It is expected Prof. JJ Muhinda or Prof. Mandi Rukuni, both renowned for their expertise in agricultural sciences, will facilitate the side event. The agenda kicks off with opening remarks from high-profile figures such as Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Hussein Mohamed Bashe, and Kenya’s Minister of Agriculture, setting a high-level tone for the discussions to follow.

Insightful Sessions and Panel Discussions

Tilahun Amede from AGRA will present the current state of Africa’s soil health, highlighting successful practices in restoring degraded soils and the need for integrated research and investment strategies. This will transition into the first of two panel discussions focusing on sustainable fertilizer and soil health innovations at scale, featuring insights from leaders in research such as Shamie Zingore from APNI, Bernard Vanlauwe from IITA, and Florent Clair from UPL.

The second panel will delve into specific solutions and investments for managing acid soils, a significant challenge across many African regions. Contributions will come from Dr Jordan Chamberlin of CIMMYT, Dr Temesgen Desalegn from EIAR, and Mr Geoffrey Kirenga from SAGCOT, alongside international experiences from Embrapa-Brazil and Øystein Botillen from Yara.

The Experts are dedicated to enhancing agricultural productivity and sustainability across Africa. Dr Jordan Chamberlin, a spatial economist with CIMMYT in Kenya, brings a rich background in agricultural economics, specializing in rural development and policies that improve smallholder welfare and productivity. Dr. Desalegn, a leading soil scientist and NRM Research Director at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, focuses on sustainable soil health practices. Mr. Kirenga, CEO of SAGCOT Centre Ltd., leverages his extensive experience in Tanzanian agriculture to drive transformative initiatives that aim to increase economic growth, alleviate poverty, and promote sustainable agricultural practices across the value chain. Together, these leaders contribute to vital discussions and actions that shape the future of agriculture in Africa.

A Roadmap for the Future

The session will conclude with Asseta Diallo from AGRA, who will discuss fostering partnerships among stakeholders and reflect on the key takeaways and future steps. This segment aims to consolidate the discussions into a coherent strategy for national and regional policymakers, ensuring that the insights gained translate into tangible benefits for African farmers and communities.

Media Opportunities and Global Attention

The side event at the AFSHS 2024 is a forum for sharing knowledge and an opportunity for stakeholders to engage directly with the media and public. The summit aims to generate a broader understanding and support for African soil health initiatives by highlighting the collaborative efforts and innovative solutions discussed.

GAIA, a ten-year project (2014-2024) that targets acidic soil management in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania, will feature in the summit; what are the biggest lessons? Gaia aims to improve soil health, agricultural productivity, and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. It is an alliance of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), SAGCOT and AGRA Tanzania among others. It is financially backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.