ECOWAS establishes a hub to improve soil quality

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Fertilizer

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) late Wednesday launched a fertilizer and soil health hub to enhance productivity of arable land in West Africa and the Sahel region.

Alain Traore, the director for agriculture and rural development at ECOWAS, said the hub is expected to promote sustainable agricultural practices by facilitating the delivery of agronomic gains through efficient resource use.

“The hub is expected to contribute to the sustainable transformation of smallholder agriculture for food security, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability,” Traore said during the launch of the hub on the sidelines of Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit underway in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

He said the hub is designed to enhance climate resilience and the adoption of best practices in soil health management to help improve yields and profitability of smallholder farming across the West African region.

Technical officials at the hub are expected to focus on information dissemination, capacity development, and policy support and resource mobilization, Traore said.

Katie Freeman, senior agriculture economist at the World Bank, said the lender is supporting the hub since it offers a roadmap to increasing agricultural productivity in the whole of Africa.

The World Bank has donated 10 million U.S. dollars through the Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa project to manage the hub for five years, Freeman said.

Part of the funding will be used to improve soil mapping in all the ECOWAS countries, besides improving soil nutrients, she said.

Simeon Ehui, director general of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), said the hub will serve as an example for promoting sustainable land management in Africa.

The hub will be headquartered at the IITA campus in Ibadan, Nigeria, with a subsidiary hub at the University Mohammed VI Polytechnic in Ben Guerir, Morocco.

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