Africa: Experts Push for Organic Fertilisers to Revive Africa's Soil Health

Large-scale adoption of organic fertilisers instead of synthetic ones could be the linchpin in revitalising Africa's soil health, achieving food security, and bolstering ecological resilience, scientists have said.

Speaking on the sidelines of Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health summit held in Nairobi, Kenya last week, experts noted that organic matter-derived manure holds promise in revolutionising smallholder agriculture across a continent beset by diminishing soil fertility and climate-induced pressures.

Abdou Tenkouano, director general of the Nairobi-based International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), stressed the necessity of aligning Africa's farming practices with natural systems for enhanced resilience, sustainability, and productivity.

"Encouraging smallholder farmers to utilise bio-fertilisers and other organic compounds can fortify soil health, safeguard biodiversity, and amplify crop yields," Tenkouano affirmed.

According to Tenkouano, compost-derived fertilisers have demonstrated efficacy in mitigating soil degradation, curbing water loss, and augmenting crop yields among smallholder farmers at a nominal expense.

David Amudavi, Executive Director of Biovision Africa Trust in Nairobi, underscored the pressing need to transition from synthetic to organic fertilisers to combat escalating soil acidity levels menacing Africa's agricultural lands.

Dr Amudavi emphasised that organic fertilisers will not only diminish carbon footprints in smallholder farms across Africa but also offer viable avenues to mitigate pest and disease proliferation.

Highlighting the growing number of startups dedicated to manufacturing bio-fertilisers, Dr Amudavi said their crucial role in ensuring affordability and accessibility to smallholder farmers grappling with micronutrient depletion in soils.

Oscar Aghan, CEO of Nairobi-based social enterprise Eco BioFertiliser, pointed to the escalating adoption of organic fertilisers, spurred by mounting concerns over the detrimental impacts of synthetic variants on critical ecosystems like watersheds.

Aghan advocated for fiscal incentives, comprehensive training programs, and improved market linkages to empower African startups in ramping up bio-fertiliser production to regenerate degraded soils and habitats.

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