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Africa losing Sh520B yearly to soil degradation, half of arable land may be unusable by 2050

According to a report on the pace of soil degradation in Africa, the pace of soil degradation on the continent is a major threat to the sustainability of agricultural production. 

The African Union action plan released on the heels of the Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit held in Nairobi on May 7-9 projected that more than half of the currently arable land in Africa may be unusable by 2050. 

75-80 per cent of the continent’s cultivated area is reportedly degraded, with a loss of 30 to 60 kilograms of nutrients per hectare per year. This annual loss is valued at Sh520 billion.

Concerningly, over 485 million people (65 per cent of Africa’s population) will be affected. 

The continent’s soils also lack adequate water access– an essential input for crop production. They also suffer from the loss of soil organic matter, and soil fertility, as well as negative nutrient balance, water and wind erosion, soil acidification, loss of soil biodiversity, soil salinity, soil pollution, overgrazing, soil compaction and desertification. 

The decline in soil health and fertility across Africa has hindered not only agricultural productivity, but also food and nutrition security, rural livelihoods, and environmental sustainability across the continent. 

This decline significantly reduces the capacity of the soil to respond to the use of yield-increasing inputs such as fertilizers and improved crop varieties and greatly increases the vulnerability of smallholder farmers and communities to the impacts of climate shocks. The insecurity of tenure of land and water further hamper the ability of farmers to invest in sustainable production.

Read more:

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Decreasing soil moisture cuts size of Africa’s farmland

Soil compaction robs farmers of 60% of their yield

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