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FAO launches programme to increase soil productivity and reduce degradation in Africa

soil testing

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and its international soil partnership have launched a programme to increase soil productivity in forty seven African countries by thirty per cent, and reduce soil degradation by twenty five per cent within the next 10 years.

Africa is the second driest continent in the world, with nearly half of its surface made up of desert, and 40 per cent of it affected by desertification.

About 65 per cent of the continent’s farm land is affected by erosion-induced losses of topsoil and soil nutrients. If soils are severely broken or lost, they are very difficult and costly to restore and rehabilitate.

On top of this, less than half of Africa’s land is suitable for agriculture, and of this, only 16 per cent is of high quality. 70 per cent of Africa’s population is affected by food insecurity. Out of the 815m undernourished people globally, 243m are from Africa.

“Afrisoils appearance at a mixture of soil interventions and therefore the adoption of best property soil management practices, which are focused on increasing the soil organic matter content in African soils to improve soil’s fertility and cut back soil degradation,” said Rene Castro, FAO Assistant Director General, climate, biodiversity, land and water department.

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Some of the programme’s intervention will focus on Increasing soil’s organic carbon and organic matter, which are essential to soil’s fertility, by leaving crop residues and composts; using crop rotation and diversification to capture the soil’s nitrogen; victimization natural fertilizers.

Other measures include implementing soil conservation and control measures such as terracing, contour lines and hedgegrows, curbing deforestation, using irrigation for improved crop production, establishing soil testing laboratories and supporting the legislation and policy guidelines for sustainable soil management.

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