Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health Summit: the start of a long-term commitment to promote soil health in Africa

Share on: 01 May 2024

In anticipation of the Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health Summit in Nairobi next week, we reflect on the importance and potential outcomes of this gathering.

Soil is an essential resource that provides us with food, fibre and timber, clean water, and habitats for biodiversity. It also significantly influences climate change adaptation and mitigation, stores our cultural heritage, and supports our landscapes. Therefore, maintaining good soil health is crucial to ensure that future generations can benefit from it.

The African Union Commission (AUC) mandated the development of a Soil Initiative for Africa (SIA). A 10-year Action Plan is being developed to systematically improve soil health, accelerating sustainable, pro-poor productivity growth and rendering the agro-ecosystem more resilient to climate change. The Summit aims to agree on an action plan, which provides concrete recommendations for steps to be taken by African leaders and stakeholders over the next decade to implement the SIA. The action plan will focus on developing new policies and investments that will enable farmers to work towards re-building soil health and ultimately increase yield responses and profitability of fertilisers. Leading private and public sector partners across all African countries are also expected to endorse the Action Plan, marking a significant step towards a sustainable future for African agriculture.

We view this Summit as a critical milestone in our efforts to contribute to enhance agricultural productivity and promote soil health in Africa, amidst the challenges of dwindling natural resources and the impacts of climate change.

ISRIC’s commitment to SIA

Successful implementation of the SIA would ensure an African future in which its soils are healthy and resilient. Through our work, we commit to contributing primarily to Priority Area 3. Optimise data and information for effective planning and monitoring. Data and information providing insight in soil quality are indispensable when designing interventions to improve soil health. We will share our knowledge, experience and tools for the development of soil information products for the continent, both at continental level and at national level. We are committed to assist African soil information providers with standards, tools and capacity strengthening programs in support of their important task to deliver reliable soil information for their countries.

The Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health Summit provides a unique opportunity to catalyse action and collaboration across different sectors. Collaboration among governments, research institutions, NGOs, and private sectors is essential and a shared responsibility for developing and implementing the action plan.

ISRIC - World Soil Information is committed to further supporting national soil information institutes in developing actionable soil information to facilitate decision-making for sustainable soil management. Drawing on our long-term experience in creating global soil information services, we offer science-based tools, methods, and standards, as well as capacity strengthening. The Africa Soil Information Community of Practice and Resource Library are the latest examples of such activities. We also provide examples of how soil information can be used in decision making for sustainable land management through projects like Land, Soil, and Crop Information Services (LSC-IS) and Space to Place.