The state of Africa's soils represent an obstacle to achieving the region's development and food security goals, according to a report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Montpellier Panel.
The report, titled ‘No Ordinary Matter: Conserving, Restoring and Enhancing Africa's Soils,' analyzes land management in Africa and provides recommendations for governments and donors looking to conserve, restore and enhance African soils.
4 December 2014: The state of Africa’s soils represent an obstacle to achieving the region’s development and food security goals, according to a report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Montpellier Panel. The report, titled ‘No Ordinary Matter: Conserving, Restoring and Enhancing Africa’s Soils,’ analyzes land management in Africa and provides recommendations for governments and donors looking to conserve, restore and enhance African soils.
Land degradation currently affects up to 65% of African soils, according to the report. It also affects an estimated 180 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and results in US$68 billion per year in economic losses for the continent.
“The burdens caused by Africa’s damaged soils are disproportionately carried by the continent’s resource-poor farmers,” Gordon Conway, Chair of the Montpellier Panel, said at the report’s launch. He said fragile land security and limited access to financial resources result in farmers not investing in better land management, which exacerbates land degradation and soil health.
The report argues that soil’s contribution to addressing climate change mitigation and food security in Africa has been overlooked. It recommends prioritizing integrated soil and sustainable land management (SLM) to address cycles of poor land management and reduce barriers to agricultural development for smallholder farmers, food security and economic growth in Africa.
In the report, the Montpellier Panel recommends: committing to a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on ‘Zero Net Land Degradation;’ promoting integrated soil management (ISM); creating incentives to encourage adequate farm land management, particularly secure land rights; and putting a price on land degradation costs and SLM benefits. On financing, the Panel recommends: improving the transparency of funds on land and soil management and monitoring their effectiveness; and increasing financial support for SLM investments. The report also recommends actions to enhance data on African soils and strengthen African soil research centers.
The report’s launch event took place at IFAD headquarters in Rome, Italy, one day in advance of the first World Soil Day and the official launch of the International Year of Soils (IYS) in 2015.
The Montpellier Panel, convened by the advocacy group Agriculture for Impact, is a group of African and European experts from the agriculture, ecology, global development and trade fields. Since 2010, the Panel has issued recommendations on how European governments can support regional and national agricultural development and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. [IFAD Press Release] [IFAD Press Release on Launch Event] [Montpellier Panel Website]