By Justice Lee Adoboe & Seth
Tei Gafah ACCRA, (Xinhua) --
Experts at the three-day West
Africa Fertilizer and Agri-Business Conference which
began here on Monday identified depletion of soil
nutrients as one of the key challenges to food security
on the African continent.
Rurangwa, Land and Water Officer at the UN-Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) African Regional Office
noted there is the need for increasing current food
production levels significantly to meet growing demands.
that globally populations will approach nine billion,
and the increasing demand for health and nutrition food
will continue to increase and push humanity to try to
meet the demand.
“To meet the
demand for nutritious and healthy food, agriculture
production has to increase globally by 60 percent and in
our Developing Countries almost by 100 percent. And this
has to be done without increasing the surface area. So
this is really a very serious challenge that we have,”
globally, 30 percent of the soil is moderately or highly
degraded through erosion, salinization, compaction,
acidification, chemical pollution and nutrient
depletion, he said the situation in Africa is worse.
sub-Saharan Africa 83 percent of rural people depend on
the land for livelihood and we know that almost 80
percent of African soil are currently degraded. So it is
really a huge challenge to be able to produce the almost
100 percent that we are saying with this situation,” he
official therefore urged national level actions
including putting soil management into policies and
governance structures in African countries, which are
sometimes lacking; “The second one is to invest into
soil research. The third one is also to invest again in
education and extension programs in soil management
conference is organized by the West African Fertilizer
Association (WAFA) and Argus to discuss issues on soil
fertility and the need for soil conservation and
fertilizer use for maximum crop yield for food security.
National President of the Soil Science Society of
Nigeria who is also a panelist on some of the Plenary
sessions told Xinhua that indeed the soil infertility is
hampering food production in Africa.
“A lot of
our soils are losing their fertility because a lot of
nutrient mining is going on. What it means is the
farmers are not using enough fertilizers. Most parts of
Africa still use up to 10 kgs of nutrients per hectare
as opposed to the 50 kgs per hectare recommended by
African Heads of State in 2006 to be attained in 2015,”
fertilizers are usually expensive, Chude urged African
governments to support farmers to purchase the right
type of fertilizers to be applied in the right volumes
for maximum food production.
food security is adverse if farmers don’t use fertilizer
because the nutrient levels in the soil are too low to
meet the demands of the crops and the yields will be
low.” he said.