Continuing the Wins in Soil Health Restoration in Africa

2/14/2017
World Policy Blog

Sub-Saharan African countries, including Ethiopia and Rwanda, have embarked on an ambitious path to reclaim and sustainably manage 100 million hectares of land by 2030. This journey is timely considering 65 percent of Africa’s soils are sick and degraded. Ailing African soils result in low crop yields and low household capital, pushing millions of smallholder farmers into hunger and the poverty trap, further thwarting Africa’s hope for a food-secure future.

There are plenty of factors that have contributed to the widespread degradation of soils, including unsustainable practices such as not rotating crops, not applying the right kind of fertilizers, failing to ensure the presence of appropriate soil microbes (including beneficial microbes to break down organic matter), continuous tilling of the land, and leaving the land bare after crop harvests. As soil is degraded, important ecosystem processes such as the formation of new soils and nutrient and water cycling are impacted, which further undermines agricultural production.

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