Home Opinion Press Releases AFSA Calls For Transformative Changes In African Fertilizer And Soil Health Policies

AFSA Calls For Transformative Changes In African Fertilizer And Soil Health Policies

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Afsa Calls
Afsa Calls

HEALTHY SOILS FOR HEALTHY FOOD SYSTEMS AND RESILIENCE

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), representing a coalition of 41 African civil society organizations, today issued a call for revision of the African Union’s proposed 10-year Fertilizer and Soil Health Action Plan 2023-2033. As a voice for over 200 million stakeholders across Africa, including smallholder farmers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, and agroecological entrepreneurs, AFSA expresses reservations about the approaches endorsed in the proposed 10-year Action Plan.

The AU action plan’s strong emphasis on the extensive use of mineral fertilizers, hybrid seeds, and agrochemicals is seen by AFSA as a continuation of outdated and potentially harmful practices. These methods misinterpret the real challenges of soil health and risk exacerbating soil degradation, threatening food security, public health, and crucial seed diversity in Africa.

Dr. Million Belay, AFSA General Coordinator, emphasized, “Civil society has a pivotal role in the fertilizer and soil health debate, not only by linking actors across the value chain but by challenging narratives that threaten seed diversity and pushing back against the productivist agenda that prioritizes yields over nutrition, health, and environmental integrity. It’s disconcerting that African civil society was not consulted in the planning of the African Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit nor in the formulation of its 10-year plan.”

AFSA advocates for a shift towards agroecology, which integrates local knowledge with scientific innovation to restore biodiversity and build resilient food systems. However, the current plan marginalizes these sustainable approaches, misleadingly presenting agroecology as supplementary rather than a standalone solution capable of addressing Africa’s food security challenges comprehensively.

Ferdinand Wafula of Bio Gardening Innovations, Kenya said, “ We need to take care of our soils for future generations. There is the African saying: ‘We borrow land from our children.’ We urge policymakers, governments, and donors to provide more funding to these alternatives because they mitigate a huge number of issues ranging from nutrition challenges to climate crisis and the escalating prices for commodities.” He added “Africa is not a monoculture. We want a diversity of diverse crops using ecological methods. Synthetic materials kill microorganisms.

AFSA points out that the current plan exacerbates economic strains by increasing dependency on expensive imported fertilizers, enriching a handful of fertilizer companies while African farmers face soaring costs. This economic imbalance underscores a misplaced priority that benefits industrial agriculture corporations more than it aids the smallholder farmers of Africa.

AFSA’s Recommendations for Transformative Change

1. New Narrative: Shift the narrative from dependence on synthetic inputs to showcasing the capabilities of African farmers to cultivate robust and diverse food systems through agroecological practices.
2. Contest the Productivist Agenda: Oppose the prevailing agenda that prioritizes yield over nutritional value, health, environmental sustainability, and cultural relevance.
3. Inclusive Policy Development: Involve farmers and civil society in the agricultural planning process to ensure that policies reflect the real needs and contexts of those at the heart of the food system.
4. Increase Funding for Agroecology: Substantially increase investments and financial resources dedicated to agroecological practices that enhance soil health and fertility.

While AFSA agrees with the AU on the urgent need to address land degradation and restore soil biodiversity, the current push to increase chemical inputs is a misguided agenda that profits corporations at the expense of smallholder African farmers. AFSA calls for a comprehensive reevaluation of the Fertilizer and Soil Health Action Plan to prioritize to focus on empowering farmers, protecting biodiversity, and building resilient food systems through agroecological and locally adapted practices.

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