Nairobi summit endorses plans on fertiliser utilisation and soil health

A section of leaders during the Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit held at the KICC, Nairobi. [X/Ruto]

African heads of state endorsed the Nairobi Declaration, opening doors for a Fertiliser and Soil Health Action Plan and Initiative for Africa at the close of the 2nd Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit in Nairobi. 

President William Ruto said the deliberations at the summit have culminated in outcomes that will define the use of fertiliser and soil health in Africa. 

“These documents aim to harness multi-stakeholder partnerships and investments to drive policies, finance, research and development, markets, and capacity building for fertilizer and sustainable soil health management in Africa,” Ruto said about the Nairobi Declaration. 

He further urged other African Heads of State and Government to collaborate closely to implement the 10-year action plan for sustainable soil health at the domestic level. 

Another deliberation endorsed at the Nairobi summit concerns soil health. Ruto has said Kenya is committed to reverse land degradation and restore soil health on at least 30 per cent of degraded soil by 2033. 

African Heads of State, soil scientists and experts in agriculture deliberated on fertiliser use, and committed to triple domestic production and distribution of organic and inorganic fertiliser, ensuring they reach 70 per cent of small-holder farmers across the continent.  

“We have pledged to enhance access to and affordability of fertiliser for smallholder farmers, providing them with targeted agronomic recommendations tailored to specific crops, soils, and climatic conditions. This aims to promote greater efficiency and sustainable use of fertilisers,” Ruto told the summit.  

Access to fertiliser and affordability has remained a challenge for African farmers, in this regard, a discussion about financing was also made where the leaders committed to fully operationalise the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism to improve production, procurement and distribution of organic and inorganic fertilisers.

The three-day summit attracted more than 2,500 delegates, heads of state and agricultural scientists and experts from across Africa to discuss soil degradation, sustainable soil health, accelerating inclusive agricultural transformation, and ending hunger, malnutrition, and poverty for the growing population. 

While closing the summit, President Ruto pointed out that Africa remains heavily reliant on food imports, decades after Africa's green revolution, in the Abuja declaration, 2006. 

“This highlights the limited progress made after the Abuja declaration. This summit offers a perfect opportunity to reflect and resolve important issues that hinders farmer's efforts and investment in enhancing agricultural opportunities and productivity,” he said.

At the summit, it emerged that global economic challenges, disruption of supply chains, the Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical dynamics like wars have worsened fertiliser affordability and availability- disrupting agriculture and agricultural production hence food insecurity. 

Heads of state committed to fully implement the Nairobi declaration.

The President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera noted that high inflation and food inflation is driving poverty in Africa. 

He said Malawi faces soil acidity and degradation like many other African countries and therefore their was urgent need to invest in soil health.

“As a country, we are addressing soil health issues, and have programs and  interventions to address acidity levels in soils in Malawi,” he said.

Chakwera revealed that 163 million dollars is set aside for implementation of the Soil Heath and Fertilizer action plan for Malawi.