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Africa’s Soil Depletion Crisis: Urgent Need for Attention and Action – Insights from West Africa Public-Private Dialogue

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The Director of the Alliance for Africa Partnership, Africa Secretariat, Prof. Richard Nkandawire, has raised alarm over the state of soil depletion in Africa, calling it a crisis that needs to be addressed urgently.

He stated that African soils have become one of the poorest globally due to the continuous loss of soil nutrients on the continent. He further highlighted that emergency food production in Africa would need to increase by almost 100% by 2050 to keep up with population demands on a continent where 83% of the people depended on the land for livelihood.

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Prof. Nkandawire made these remarks during the African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) Regional West Africa Public-Private Dialogue (PPD), which was organised in collaboration with the USAID-supported Feed the Future Policy LINK Activity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the West African Fertiliser Association (WAFA), and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA). The three-day event brought together stakeholders in the fertiliser value chain from both the private and public sectors, including farmer associations, agro-dealers, financial institutions, and policy-makers from Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Mali.

The conference centred on addressing the challenges impacting the regional fertiliser supply chain and their negative consequences on West Africa’s fertiliser and agro-inputs sectors. The event’s discussions will inform the development of evidence-based policy recommendations to support the fertiliser and agro-inputs sectors in Ghana. Speaking at the conference, the Country Lead of Feed the Future Policy LINK, Yunus Abdulai, expressed appreciation for the active participation of stakeholders and lauded the discussions, which would help improve food security on the continent.

The Deputy Minister in charge of Crops at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Yaw Frimpong Addo, also praised the implementation of the fertiliser and other crop input subsidy programmes, saying it would increase productivity. He emphasised the critical roles played by agribusiness and the private sector in supporting smallholder farmers through the supply of fertiliser and other inputs. The Chief Executive Officer of AFAP, Michael Sudarkasa, expressed the hope that the conference would bring challenges in the fertiliser value chain to the attention of governments and policymakers, creating the necessary environment to improve food security on the continent.

The African Union Soil Health Summit will be convened in July 2023, and Prof. Nkandawire appealed to African governments and international aid organisations to make funds available to facilitate the implementation of the summit’s outcomes. Soil depletion in Africa is a significant challenge, and it is crucial that all stakeholders work together to find sustainable solutions to improve soil health and increase food security on the continent.

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