Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

No Ordinary Matter: Conserving, Restoring and Enhancing Africa’s Soils

Date Published: 
December 5, 2014
This report from the Montpellier Panel argues that if left unaddressed, the cycle of poor land management in sub-Saharan Africa will result in higher barriers to food security and agricultural development for smallholder farmers, as well as hinder wider economic growth for Africa.
The report is a comprehensive analysis of land management in Africa today, and answers a series of critical questions:
  • Are donors and governments neglecting soil health in Africa?
  • What are the key approaches to restoring Africa’s soils?
  • How can improved land management tackle climate change in Africa?
Agriculture’s ability to catalyse rural development and eradicate poverty has been widely cited, with the World Bank claiming GDP growth from agriculture in Africa approximately 11 times more effective for reducing poverty than growth coming from any other sector. In 2006, the African Union’s Abuja declaration called for fertiliser use in sub-Saharan Africa to increase from today’s average of 8 kg/ha — the world’s lowest — to at least 50 kg/ha by 2015. However, agriculture must be implemented sustainably in order for food security to be possible for future generations, therefore the panel calls for ‘Integrated Soil Management’; combining targeted and selected use of fertilisers alongside traditional methods such as application of livestock manure, intercropping with nitrogen-fixing legumes or covering farmland with crop residues.