Nairobi, Kenya (25 January 2008) Determined to revive the grossly depleted soils of sub-Saharan Africa, which are a major underlying cause of poverty and hunger, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) today announced a US$180 million five-year program to restore the fertility of Africas soils.
AGRAs Soil Health Program will breathe new life into soils where rapid nutrient loss is sapping the ability of farmlands to sustain crops, said Dr. Namanga Ngongi, President of AGRA. This will improve the sustainability of small-scale farms, raise the yield and income of poor farmers, most of whom are women, and help protect the natural resource base of soil and water.
The program aims to work with 4.1 million farmers and regenerate 6.3 million hectares of farm land through a balanced approach to improved soil management. Initial funding for the Program comes from a US$164.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and US$15 million from the Rockefeller Foundation.
African governments are leading the way on efforts to solve the major food challenges facing the continent, Ngongi said. Their plan, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), sets out a bold target for achieving 6 percent annual growth rates in agriculture. Addressing the serious soil fertility problems facing African farmers is critical to obtaining this goal.
Improving soil health also is a fundamental element of AGRAs commitment to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families overcome poverty by working across the agricultural value chain to boost farm yield and incomes. The Soil Health Program is one part of a comprehensive approach that addresses issues from seeds and water to markets, agricultural education, and policy.
In particular, soil regeneration will complement AGRAs Seeds Program and help small-scale farmers make full use of new high-yielding varieties of Africas staple food crops.
|Contact: Preeti Singh|
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Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa