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Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa commits 180M to revive farmers' depleted soils
Date:1/25/2008

e special attention to women farmers, who form the vast majority of small- scale farmers in Africa and who, as a result, have considerable knowledge of how various crops are faring in local soils.

Within the context of Integrated Soil Fertility Management, AGRAs Soil Health Program will also work to improve farmers access to appropriate and affordable fertilizers, as well as to the knowledge needed for their efficient and environmentally sound use.

Today, fertilizers in Africa are far more expensive than the global average, and rarely available to farmers in remote areas. As a result, African farmers use only a tenth as much fertilizer as the global average. In 2006, the problem prompted African leaders to convene an Africa Fertilizer Summit. It endorsed efforts to improve fertilizer access on small-scale farms, such as promoting locally-adapted fertilizer manufacturing; establishing financing mechanisms for fertilizer procurement; and eliminating taxes and tariffs on fertilizers.

Maintaining soil health has become a constant challenge for African farmers. Africa is the worlds oldest continent and its ancient soils have been weathered for millennia. In recent decades, unsustainable land practices have accelerated the depletion of this vital natural resource. Continuous cultivation of land, without replacing the soil nutrients taken up by crops, has sapped the soil of nutrients. Moreover, degraded soils are prone to erosion and unable to retain precious water. Loss of organic matter that gives soil structure has been accompanied by loss of nutrients. And, as soils get more depleted, farmers are more likely to clear forests and savannah in the search for arable lands.

AGRAs goal of enabling small-scale farmers to produce more on less land will have multiple social, economic, and environmental benefits. It can reduce the pressure to clear new land for agriculture, which in turn can assist in countering deforestation, conserving bi
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Contact: Preeti Singh
psingh@burnesscommunications.com
301-652-1558, ext. 5722
Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa
Source:Eurekalert

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