The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched a new programme to protect and improve farm soils in Africa.
Known as Afrisoils, the programme, aims at increasing soil productivity in 47 countries by 30 per cent and reducing degradation by 25 per cent in the next 10 years.
Among its key strategies will be curbing deforestation, promoting climate-smart agro-forestry, equipping soil testing laboratories and rehabilitating degraded areas.
Others will be promoting the use of natural fertilisers and the implementation of soil conservation and erosion control measures.
“Healthy soil is the foundation of our food system, supporting healthy crops that nourish people,” said Mr Rene Castro, FAO’s Assistant Director-General, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department.
“It is only through sustainable soil management that Africa can achieve aricultural growth, ensure food security and adapt to a changing climate,” he added According to the FAO, few African countries have policies regulating soil as well as the capacity, knowledge and experience to plan and implement sustainable soil management programmes.
“Afrisoils looks at a mix of soil interventions and the adoption of best sustainable soil management practices, which are focused on increasing the soil organic matter content in African soils to improve soil’s fertility and reduce soil degradation,” said Mr Castro. The programme is expected to cost $50 million (Ksh5 billion) over the next 10 years.