Friday, April 26, 2013

Study on Africa's soil reveals significant climate-induced nutrient depletion

"Many of the soils of Africa are severely degraded by erosion and excessive nutrient depletion. This explains the low productivity of African soils, mainly due to lack of plant nutrients, not adequately replenished by artificial fertilizers. On average, African farmers, due to rural poverty, are able to apply only 10% of the nutrients that farmers in the rest of the world return to the soil."
That was a summary of the findings of a study on Africa's soil resources announced today by the European Union.  Presenting the study in a meeting between EU and representatives of the African Union commission, EU commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, noted that "the soils of Africa have a crucial role in climate change adaptation and mitigation polices and they are the basis for sustainable development and food security."
Fertile and productive soils are key to tackling hunger and are a particular challenge in Africa, where, in many parts, soils are losing nutrients faster than fertilisers can be added
According to the study, 98% of all calories consumed in Africa originate from the soil resources of Africa. "Africa's soils store about 200 gigatonnes of organic carbon - 2.5 times more than contained in the continent's plants. Tropical rainforest soils are not naturally fertile but need a constant supply of organic matter from natural vegetation. Deforestation breaks this cycle."
A similar study conducted in 2006 showed that more than 80% of the farmland in Sub-Saharan Africa is plagued by severe degradation.  Africa Soil Information Service agrees with this finding.  The organization which conducts research on soil says improved soil is key to reduction of poverty on the continent.
Going by the findings of the report, to ensure food security and avert the treats of poverty-induced violence on the continent, African countries must enhance the application of science and technology in their agric sectors.   "Fertile and productive soils are key to tackling hunger and are a particular challenge in Africa, where, in many parts, soils are losing nutrients faster than fertilisers can be added," EU said.

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